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The Ultimate No-Bull Speed

Development Manual

A step-by-step guide for transforming an
everyday Joe (or Jane), into a FREAKY FAST,
agile, and EXPLOSIVE athlete

For Athletes, Coaches, and Parents

By: Kelly Baggett

Copyright 2006 by Kelly Baggett. All Rights


No portion of this manual may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic of mechanical, including fax, photocopy, recording or any information
storage and retrieval system by anyone but the purchaser for their own personal use. This
manual may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of
Kelly Baggett, except in the case of a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages for the
sake of a review written for inclusions in a magazine, newspaper, or journal and these
cases require written approval from Kelly Baggett prior to publication.

For more information, please contact:

Kelly Baggett
649 Fruit Farm Road
Hollister, MO 65672

Email: Kelly@higher-faster-sports.com
Website: www.higher-faster-sports.com


The information in this book is offered for educational purposes only; the reader should
be cautioned that there is an inherent risk assumed by the participant with any form of
physical activity. With that in mind, those participating in strength and conditioning
programs should check with their physician prior to initiating such activities. Anyone
participating in these activities should understand that such training initiatives may be
dangerous if performed incorrectly. The author assumes no liability for injury; this is
purely an educational manual to guide those already proficient with the demands of such


Table of Contents

Part I- Linear Speed.5
Speed Is Simple!..6
How Trainable Is Running Speed Anyway?....7
Gross Motor Skills Vs Fine Motor Skills....8
Speed = Stride length Times Stride Frequency...9
Stride Length is King!..9
Factors Involved In Increasing Ground Reaction Force....11
Strength = The Backbone..15
How Strong Is Strong Enough?.15
What Horsepower Looks Like...16
What Can Strength Do For You?...16
Building Strength...18
Muscle Mass Increases For a Speed Athlete? Blah!...22
Strength and Its Relationship To Power25
Best Exercises?..27
"Slow" Strength Training Movements vs "Fast" Strength Training Movements..27
Strength Work and Fatigue....29
Improving Stride Rate....30
Top Speed vs Acceleration....31
Sprinting Technique...33
Technical cues....34
The Stride Cycle36
Getting Full Extension...36
The Feet - Heel Running Vs Toe Running...38-39
Function Follows Form..39
Hip Running vs Knee Running..43
Various Assessments To Ensure Proper Movement Efficiency44
Glute Amnesia and Tight Hip Flexors...44
Assessing the Balance Between the Glutes and Hams..45
Is The Psoas Muscle Strong Enough?....46
Evaluating Core Stability...46
The Execution Of The 40-yard Dash.....47
Starting From Blocks.49
Troubleshooting Running Mechanics....50
Setting up a routine Volume...51
Maintaining Movement Proficiency vs Improving Movement Proficiency..53
Rest Intervals.53
Making Things Easy..57
Year Around Training?..59
Mobility Training...60
Form Drills.64
Speed and Acceleration Drills...64
Plyometric Training...65
The Entire Athletic Development Process Being a good diagnostician.67
Detailed Sample 12 week programs for 40 yard dash improvement.....74
12 week Program I For the Strength Deficient Athlete..75
12 week Program II For The Speed Deficient Athlete...82
A Simple Yet Cutting Edge Variant Horizontal Loading...84
Conditioning and No Mans Land.....87
Power vs Power Endurance...89
How To Implement Conditioning Without Interfering With Speed and Power....91
Extensive Conditioning Options....92

Part II- Getting in Game Shape, Improving Game Speed, Agility, and Quickness
Intensive Conditioning Getting in Game Shape.97
Improving Game Speed.99
Improving Quickness and Reaction Time...100
Improving Agility101
Sample Off-season workouts for football....103
12 Week Program I - For The Strength Dominant Athlete..105
12 Week Program II - For The Speed Dominant Athlete111
Training For Track...116

Q&A and Special Topics
14 year old with strength and coordination issues...123
Importance of the plantar flexors.123
Too much work during the off-season?...124
The need for special exercises?....125
Linear vs conjugate periodization....126
Cleans and other Olympic lifts Yah or Nay?....128
Templates for combine preparation.....130
Sport specific training..131
My 40 yard dash training.133
How long does it take to see improvements?...134
Upper body contribution to running speed?.....134

Appendix A: The Simpleton's Guide To Speed Training136
Appendix B: Training Templates For Various Athletes..152
Appendix C: Various resources...161



Ahhhh..Speeda quality coveted by many yet had by a rare few. Few things
can match the appeal of the fluidity, suppleness, grace, and power of the freaky fast
athlete. Those possessing it become the recipients of instant respect and admiration -
while those who dont often develop a yearning for it rivaling that of mans long search
for the fountain of youth. What is the secret they ask? In the sports world they come by
the hundreds of thousands searching for the magical speed elixir, wanting to drink from
the Fountain of Speed. Countless training methods promising magic, yet each
representing but a small fraction of the complete picture: Plyometrics, medicine balls,
ladder drills, active isolated stretching, olympic lifting, powerlifting, speed and agility
centers, form drills, high speed treadmills, dynamic mobility, creatine, sprinting
machines, rubber bands, sleds, shoes, russian secrets, soft tissue work, the list goes on
and on and on. The result is a huge speed development industry - along with what is
often a myriad of confusion for the speed-seeking athlete, parent, and coach.

With so many things to learn, so many training methods to choose from, and so
many systems all promising to be the answer, what are you supposed to do to ensure
youre on the right path towards attaining your true athletic potential? For every speed
development technique, exercise, method, system or elixir, youll find the praise of
plenty, yet you will also find those ready to throw it in the grave. What to do? Can all the
various elixirs be reduced down to a simple formula incorporating basic step-by-step
principles? Is there a surefire duplicatable approach to increase speed that will work the
same for everyone, or, like the elusive fountain of youth, is it like searching for fools

Well, fortunately, building speed is easier than finding the fountain of youth. In
this manual I'm gonna try my very best to answer and illustrate the question, "What
simple basic principles can all the various speed training methods, techniques, gimmicks,
and elixirs be reduced down to? Im also gonna try to give you a step-by-step, no B.S.,
surefire approach to get you on the right path towards applying those principles and
transforming either yourself (or others) into smooth, fluid, agile, and freaky fast athletes.

Part I-
Linear Speed

So you want to get faster? Congratulations! Without a doubt improving your
speed is one of the best things you can do to improve your performance as an athlete.
One of the greatest concerns among todays coaches and athletes in many sports is how
to improve the elusive quality of speed. This is largely due to the influence of scouting
tests like the 40-yard dash. Although tests such as the 40 and 60-yard dash could be
considered over-rated when it comes to evaluating player ability (due to the fact that the
most sports are just as much dependent on moves, agility and quickness), theyre also the
tests that most coaches rely on when determining if a player has what it takes. When it
comes to the NFL draft, millions of dollars can be gained or lost for a player in the
difference of a couple of tenths of a second in his 40. The same goes for baseball players
and the 60-yard dash.

For those of you who have watched re-runs of the television series Playmakers,
it is obvious just how much emphasis is placed on speed in the 40-yard dash. In one
episode, Leon Taylor, an aging 30-year old running back, dedicates himself to improving
his performance in a variety of the same tests used at the NFL scouting combine. He
does this to show that even at 30 years of age hes still as good or better physically than
he was at the beginning of his career. He actually improves in every single test except
the 40-yard dash, where his time goes from 4.5 seconds as a rookie to 4.6 seconds as a
30-year old. He presents a video of his performance in the various drills to his coach who
looks at all his numbers, zeroes in on the 40, and says, Youve slowed down. These
young guys dont have your strength or tenacity but they can get through the hole
quicker. The difference between a 4.5 and 4.6 is the difference between breaking into
the clear and getting tackled at the line of scrimmage. Just face it you aint got it no
more! Point Taken!!

Even though that example was made for television its still true that most team
sport coaches do place a huge emphasis on sprint times such as 40s or 60s, often to the
exclusion of everything else. If you as an athlete, coach, or parent want yourself, your
kids, or your athletes to impress people and get noticed, speed is where its at! You
probably already know this otherwise you wouldnt have purchased this manual.
Although being fast wont automatically make a great player it can turn some heads and
often get a foot in the door so that you can show scouts, coaches, and other talent
evaluators what you can do on the field. Regardless of what level of sport referred to, it
can also mean the difference between starting and sitting the bench.

Speed Is Simple!
The good thing is, although it is often very difficult for the average person to sort
through all the often contrasting information in the athletic development industry,
improving speed really isnt all that complicated. Methods are many, but principles are
few. Any improvement in your athletic ability is really just a matter of increasing two
(count them, just two) foundational qualities. All of the aforementioned training methods
I talked about earlier, as well as anything else that improves performance, will affect one
or both of these. They are:

1. Movement efficiency- How you move. The ability to carry out a movement with
utmost efficiency. Think of the fluid grace of someone like a Reggie Bush moving
straight ahead like hes shot out of a cannon, stopping on a dime, changing direction, and
doing a pirouette like a ballerina.

2. Horsepower- How much force is behind a movement. The amount of force, power,
and speed that is exerted when you move (The difference between a ballerina sprinting
down the sideline vs a Reggie Bush sprinting down the sideline)
Any training method, gimmick, recovery aid, diet, or anything else promoted to
improve a physical quality like running speed will impact one of those factors. Thats the
only way speed (or any other physical quality) can improve. Think about it. What
determines the speed at which your legs move in something like a kick or a sprint? The
same thing that determines how fast a baseball flies through the air. How much force
(horsepower) that its hit with - or, in the case of running, how much force is behind the
leg. What determines the ability to run with perfect and fluid mechanics? The answer is,
the efficiency of the movement.
If I lift weights, I improve my ability to exert force (horsepower). If I get a massage
and the massage relaxes my tight muscles, that relaxation allows me to move more
efficiently, and that in turn also allows me to exert more force, right? If I drink special
blue green algae and lose weight I have less fat mass to carry around and thatll improve
my movement efficiency. If I take supplements that increase my energy I can then exert
more force in my movements due to my greater energy levels. If I do some Yoga I might
improve my ability to relax and this helps me move better. If I use a special high-speed
treadmill that improves my power and allows me to move my legs faster when I run, I
increase my movement efficiency and my horsepower. The list goes on and on.
Here is a question for you: What if, instead of haphazardly engaging in all sorts of
training methods and then trying to determine what and how they work, we simply
worked backwards from the end results of our training and found the most direct
approach to improve movement efficiency and horsepower? In other words, since speed
improvements result from improvements in those qualities, what are the best and most
direct ways to improve those 2 qualities? We could ask, What is the most direct and
straight line approach to improve the force I put behind my sprint movements?? After
we answered that question wed ask, Ok, what is the most direct way to increase my
movement efficiency? What might happen if we took that approach?
Hmmsomething to think about isnt it? More on that in a minute, but right now lets
talk about a few other things related to speed development.
How Trainable Is Running Speed Anyway?
It used to be thought that it was virtually impossible to improve running speed
and the predominant line of thinking in coaching circles was that fast athletes were born
but not made. Yes, there is a genetic component involved in running fast but anyone can
get faster if they train correctly. Not everyone can achieve world-class 100-meter
sprinter speed but, based on my experience, any relatively untrained individual can
improve their speed in something like a 40-yard dash by around .5 seconds or more.
More importantly, team sport speed, or game speed, is HIGHLY trainable.
If youve read some of my other material you probably already have a good
understanding of the training methods required to increase running speed. If youve read
my vertical jump manual the same things you learned there can be applied here. Speed
and acceleration over short distances tends to correlate quite well with performance in the
vertical jump. In other words, the training methods that increase one tend to increase the
other. When was the last time you saw a really fast guy who couldnt jump? Running
speed and leaping ability are both heavily dependent upon lower body relative power,
with the only real differences being technical. Relative Power is just a fancy term for how
explosive you are relative to your body weight.
If we wanted to get technical we could say power equals force times velocity
(P=F*V), with the force component primarily determined by your pound per pound
strength and the velocity component determined by how quickly you can utilize that
strength. Put all that together and you get explosiveness.
Explosiveness= pound per pound strength + how quickly you utilize that
With regard to technique, whether your focus is running or jumping, you need to
spend enough time learning the technique to be proficient at either, but the performance
characteristics and strength qualities tend to correlate quite well. An athlete with less
than optimal technique can improve their speed by improving that technique and
optimizing their economy
Gross Motor Skills Vs Fine Motor Skills
Running is a gross whole body motor skill, which basically means it doesnt
require much conscious effort to perfect. This also means that performance is largely
determined by strength qualities and is not as reliant on technical skill. Gross motor
skills are kindve like riding a bike. Once you learn them they dont require much
conscious input. Once you learn how to ride a bike you dont have to think about it much
do you? Crawling, walking, running, jumping, and throwing a punch or kick can all be
put into this gross motor skill category. I also call these primal movement patterns
because theyre highly instinctual. Now, contrast those physical skills to something like
threading a needle or executing a double twisting back-flip. These require much more
skill, concentration, and focus.
Heres an example of what I mean by instinctual: Imagine youre walking
through the woods and a bear comes out and jumps your butt. Are you gonna think to
yourself, Ok, in order to get away quickly I need to pull my right heel up 45 degrees and
extend up onto my left toe and cycle my right ankle over my left knee. Or are you just
gonna run!? I would hope instead of overanalyzing things you just get up off your butt
and run!
The reason I bring this up is because throughout this manual were gonna talk
quite a bit about a multitude of factors involved in running fast, including many technical
issues, but dont lose sight of the fact that running is predominately a primal gross motor
skill. If youre constantly overanalyzing things the bear will catch you!
What is Speed?
Let me break running speed down into a very simple equation. Here it is. Speed
over a given distance can be determined by:
Stride length X Stride frequency.
Stride length- is the distance you cover with each stride as you run.
Stride frequency- is the number of strides you take in a given time
Thus, you can improve your speed by either covering more ground with each
stride, by taking faster steps, or by both. If you increase your stride length while keeping
stride frequency constant you will run faster and vice versa. If two individuals possessed
the exact same technique, the individual who could move their legs faster (stride rate) and
cover more ground in a single stride (stride length) would be the eventual winner.
Stride Length is King!
When it comes to ino.in no.in no.in no.in your speed, stride frequency is nv.n c.. nv.n c.. nv.n c.. nv.n c.. important than
stride length. In other words, the speed at which your legs move is actually not all that
To illustrate this for yourself, try this drill: Lie on your back with your feet up in
the air and cycle your legs mimicking a sprint stride. Next, get a stopwatch and either
time yourself or get someone to time you and see if you can get 5 strides per second
while lying on your back. Most of you will probably be able to do it. Realize an elite
level sprinter will take around 5 strides per second in a sprint. Therefore, chances are you
can already move your legs fast enough to be an elite level sprinter! But does that mean
you can cycle your legs at 5 strides per second while striding down the track while using
good mechanics? Probably not. Why not? Because in a real sprint, instead of just
cycling your legs through the air, you also have to propel your bodyweight down the
track with each stride. Yet, based on that example, it should be easy to see that the
absolute speed at which you can move your legs is not the limiting factor in the sprint, -
the limiting factor is the ability to overcome your bodyweight and move your body down
the track or field.
From a speed improvement standpoint, this is also good because the absolute
speed at which your legs move is under more genetic influence than the amount of
ground you cover with each stride. For example, you can take a group of young athletes
and have them do the above drill or have them run in place cycling their legs as fast as
possible. Just count how fast they can move their legs and feet. Next, have them practice
that same drill for 2 years and re-test them. Even with all the practice youre unlikely to
find a ton of improvement. Youll probably only find an average improvement of
around 10% or so.
Yet take the same beginning group of young athletes, time them over a given
distance, count their steps and monitor how much ground they cover per stride. Next,
train them properly for 2 years and re-evaluate them. Not only will you find they get a
whole lot faster, but youre also likely to find major improvements of 25 to 50% or more
in their stride length.
Speed Improvements and Stride Length
Most .ccv ino.cncn. .ccv ino.cncn. .ccv ino.cncn. .ccv ino.cncn. come from increasing stride length and the fastest athletes
tend to have very good stride lengths relative to their size. Deion Sanders has the fastest
recorded 40-yard dash ever at the NFL scouting combine and also had a stride length of
8ft 10 inches, which is very impressive. If you watch people run on a consistent basis
what youll generally notice is that the fastest runners inherently cover more ground
.inov .inov .inov .inov making any deliberate intention to do so and .inov .inov .inov .inov intentionally over-striding.
Most sub 4.4 second 40 yard dash guys are under 20 steps for the entire 40. One extreme
example is Matt Jones of the Jacksonville Jaguars. When he runs he looks like hes in
slow motion, until you see him blowing by everybody on the football field. Thats
because hes covering about 10 feet per stride.
Dont Get Carried Away
A word of caution: Dont get too carried away with this and think that all you
have to do to get faster is make a conscious effort to increase the length of your stride.
That would actually be one of the worst things you could do. When you over-stride you
reach and actually slow yourself down because you create a braking effect. Your legs
have to remain under your center of gravity and your stride has to increase naturally.
Ideally, you want your stride length to increase naturally without detracting from
your technique. You do that by increasing the amount of force you put into the ground
while still maintaining sound mechanics. When you increase the amount of force you put
into the ground, each time your foot reacts against the ground, you go further. This is
also called ovnv cv.ion {o.c. ovnv cv.ion {o.c. ovnv cv.ion {o.c. ovnv cv.ion {o.c. When you properly increase ground reaction force youll
never really be conscious of it and the technique wont really feel any different then
normal. Youll just feel .inic .inic .inic .inic and sort of feel like youre {ovin {ovin {ovin {ovin.
So, the real key is to apply more force into the ground, which you do by
increasing reaction force. How do you improve reaction force? Lets start off with a
more detailed discussion on how to do exactly that:

Factors Involved in Increasing Ground Reaction Force and
Stride Length
Increasing stride length is about getting more power into the ground with each
stride. Several factors affect how much power gets into the ground, they include the

1. Strength- Besides the obvious influence on your ability to create and generate force,
strength is also important for absorbing force. With each foot-strike in the sprint an
athlete must be able to support 3 to 7 times his bodyweight on each leg. That obviously
requires a good degree of strength. If an athlete isnt strong enough to absorb the
reaction forces he creates, his legs will crumple under his bodyweight. If this occurs he
obviously wont be able to put out any force either. The ability to withstand force is just
as, if not more important, than the ability to put out force.
2. Stiffness and Plyometric Ability- When I'm referring to stiffness I'm not referring
to flexibility, but rather the ability to efficiently stabilize and transfer force like a
basketball rebounding off the ground. This largely involves the above capacity to
withstand high forces without folding under the tension. Watch a weak or slow athlete
run and you'll notice that various parts of their legs tend to do a lot of bending under
pressure. There's a lot of give with each foot-strike - particularly right behind the knee, at
the hips, and the heels. Watch a fast athlete run and there's little give. They stay on the
balls of their feet and just kind of "bounce" over the ground with seemingly little effort
like a rock skipping across water. Therefore, stiffness in this sense is a positive thing.
What causes stiffness? Simple. Its a combination of how much force the
muscles can develop, how fast and proficiently they develop that force, and how
proficiently the muscles and tendons work together to transfer force and create
movement. With each foot-strike in a sprint the muscles have to "lock up", or contract, to
withstand the oncoming force that occurs at footstrike. The muscles themselves lock up
and this allows the tendons to serve as movement generators. This entire process is also
known as plyometric ability. To illustrate how simple this concept is try these 2 drills:

A: First, stand on 2 feet, lock your knees, and simply bounce up and down on the
balls of your feet in a rhythmic manner. Each time you hit the ground I want you
to concentrate on LOCKING UP your calf muscles as fast and hard as you can so
that your heels drop as little as possible after impact. What happens? First, your
calf muscles lock up and absorb the force created from the impact against the
ground. Next, your achilles tendon stretches like a rubber band and then recoils.
What happens next? You kind've rebound off the ground effortlessly. The
quicker you can lock your muscles up, the less your heels give at impact, and the
quicker you can rebound up. That entire sequence is also known as a plyometric
B: Now, try something a bit more advanced. Stand on the ball of only one foot
this time and bounce up and down on one leg at about the pace you'd be moving if
you were swinging a jump rope. Stay on the ball of your foot and as soon as you
hit the ground try to avoid letting your heel descend down any lower. Next, pick
up the pace and do the same thing but in a more intense rhythmic fashion. Get a
little higher with each hop. What happened? Well, providing you are strong
enough to absorb the forces, you were probably able to bounce up and down in a
rhythmic fashion with little to no effort and your heels probably didn't collapse
much. If not, you probably collapsed at the ankle, didn't move worth a darn, and
may have even noticed some pain. It should be noted that the forces generated in
a sprint are more like that drill then they are the first. Improving stiffness and
plyometric proficiency is an important part of getting faster. You can fail to be
plyometrically proficient for one of 3 reasons:

1: Your muscles aren't able to produce enough force when they contract against
oncoming force, so they give too much at impact. (You lack strength)

2: You arent able to lock your muscles up quickly enough (or produce force
quickly) enough, so your muscles give too much at impact.
3: You are able to lock up and absorb force proficiently, yet are unable to
efficiently spring out and use the tendons as movement generators. (You lack
movement efficiency and coordination)

A flat basketball cant bounce off the ground because it gives too much.
What causes the give? Lack of stiffness (air pressure). The same thing happens
with a weak athlete. The lack of strength makes his legs give at ground contact
just like the flat basketball. He cant absorb force. Now, think of what happens
when you throw a softball against a slab of concrete. The softball is strong enough
to absorb the force, yet doesnt bounce back really well. Why not? Because it
doesnt have a whole lot of rebound to it. In human terms, the soft ball would be
the guy who is really strong but who lacks spring. Now think of a golf ball. Not
only is it stiff and resilient, yet also fairly springy. When it comes to plyometric
ability, you want to be more like the golf ball. Resilient and springy.

3. Mobility- Mobility refers to range of motion. Obviously, before you can generate
extreme power and tension in a movement, you have to be able to get into an optimal
position to carry out the movement to begin with. The sprint stride obviously doesn't
require the mobility of a contortionist, yet there are certain muscle groups that can
become tight which can cause certain movements to become inhibited. This can
negatively affect the fluidity of the sprinting stride cycle. This will be covered in detail in
a later chapter.

4. Bodyweight to strength ratio- Imagine what would happen if you put a 20,000
pound weight and attached it to a funny car prior to the beginning of a race? Instead of
seeing a drag race youd be watching a tractor pull! Well, the same thing happens if
you're hauling around a 10 to 50 pound tub of lard around your gut or your butt. Being
fat simply ain't gonna cut it! If you want to be a fast and agile athlete, a certain level of
leanness is desirable.
Having said that, bodyweight increases in the form of muscle mass increases
arent necessarily a bad thing. How many really fast athletes do you see that dont carry
at least a decent amount of muscle? When a muscle increases in size, it also increases its
strength potential. Lets say you take your bodyweight from 150 to 175, while your squat
and deadlift go from 200 to 400 pounds. Did your bodyweight to strength ratio go into
the crapper? No, it improved! Therefore, one should strive to be lean, yet should not be
deathly afraid of bodyweight increases.
Instead of focusing so much on bodyweight I believe its better for an athlete to
focus on body-fat. I consider 6 to 12% body-fat ideal for a male and 12-20% ideal for a
female. The following internet URL has a handy calculator you can use to identify with
quite amazing accuracy what your body-fat level is. Simply take your waist
measurement, plug it into the space provided, and figure out where you are at:

5. Body structure- Take a 12-inch bat and hit a baseball with it. Next, take a 32-inch bat
and hit the same baseball. Which one goes further? Probably the one hit with a 32-inch
bat. This is because the longer bat gives you a longer lever, which gives you more
leverage, which means you can generate more power at the moment of impact.

When sprinting think of a leg as being the same thing as a bat. A longer leg serves as a
longer lever and, assuming the amount of force generated by the hips and legs is equal,
the longer leg can generate more power at ground contact. So, with the amount of force
generated by the hips being equal, a person with longer legs will tend to run faster. Is
there anything a person with shorter legs can do to bridge the gap? Yes. They can
produce more force. Lets use a real life example: Imagine if you gave me a 32-inch
baseball bat and gave Barry Bonds a 15-inch bat and asked us both to hit a baseball as far
as we could. Who do you think would hit the ball further? Do you think the fact that I
had a longer bat and more leverage would make up for Bonds superior strength and
power? Hardly. Hed still blow me away. Heck, hed probably even blow me away if
he was using a 6 inch bat. Hes simply too strong and too powerful in his swing for me
to compete, regardless of how much leverage I have with a longer bat. This is how a
600-pound squatting Pit Bull type sprinter like Ben Johnson was able to beat a weaker
Greyhound type sprinter like Carl Lewis. Disadavantageous limb ratios can often be
overcome by disproportionate strength.
The same process I described above with regard to leg length is also true when we
refer to variability in the length of the tendons, particularly the length of the Achilles
tendon. Take a look at the calf muscles of the average elite level sprinter or any high
level athlete participating in a speed dominant sport and compare them to the calf
muscles of an average person. Most fast sprinters have a short high calf muscle that
forms just a tight little ball way up by the knee. Their Achilles tendons also tend to be
longer than average. The longer the Achilles tendon, the greater the potential for speed.
Achilles Tendon

Why is a longer Achilles tendon advantageous for speed? Well, providing the
muscles from the hip down can properly absorb force, with each foot-strike in the sprint
the tendons stretch and recoil like rubber bands. Take a small rubber band, pull it back,
and see how far you can shoot it across the room. Next, take a longer rubber band and do
the same thing. Which one flew further? Probably the longer one. A person with longer
Achilles tendons basically has a longer rubber band in his legs and that can offer an
advantage when sprinting (or jumping). Is there anything a person cursed with a short
Achilles can do to bridge that gap? Yep. The solution to the Achilles curse is the same
solution as the short-legged curse. Disadvantageous tendon lengths can also be
overcome by disproportionate muscular strength. ** Which is again why pit bull type
sprinters like Maurice Green, Ben Johnson, and Kelly White can often beat their gazelle
like counterparts.
** The reverse is also true in that people with naturally good structural and muscular qualities can often perform while
being weaker then their opposition. The weak athlete who can jump out of the gym is a perfect example.
6. Movement efficiency- Movement efficiency is simply the ability to carry out a
movement with optimum efficiency so as to generate the greatest amount of power with
the least amount of effort. Before you can move with great speed and power at a high
intensity, you have to be able to move well at a lower intensity. Before you can be light
on your feet when moving at breakneck speed, you gotta be light and smooth on your feet
at slow speeds. Movement efficiency can be impacted by a ton of things like mobility
and muscle balance, but what I want to touch on here is technique. I will delve fairly
heavily into technical topics in just a bit, but when running a lot of people tend to try too
hard to run fast and thus actually limit how fast they run. A relaxed and smooth stride is
always more powerful and efficient than a tight and forced stride.

Strength = The Backbone
Now, Id like to spend a bit more time talking about strength. In essence, for an
athlete, maximal strength is like the horsepower of the engine in a vehicle. The more
strength we have the higher our other physical attributes can potentially go. A car with a
200-horsepower motor doesnt necessarily always run twice as fast as one with a 100
horsepower motor, but it certainly has the POTENTIAL to run a heckuva faster if all
things are equal. Just like horsepower is the foundation for how fast a car can go,
maximal strength is the foundation for our physical attributes. These attributes include
power, strength endurance, and endurance (all of them) all of which can be limited by
insufficient strength.
When training for speed over short distances you need to realize how important it is
to be STRONG! Not all athletes are built the same and not everyone displays their
strength in the same manner, yet I have yet to see a weak individual run a great 40-yard
dash. For some reason this seems to be a difficult concept for many people to grasp.
Think about this: You never see guys with 100 pound bench presses winning any shotput
medals do you? It obviously takes a strong individual to be a good shotputter. Even a
kindergardner can comprehend that. Yet when planting our feet and throwing our own
bodyweight through the air (which is exactly what we do when we run), people don't
seem to comprehend or appreciate the importance of raw horsepower. Its kindve funny
because when we run (or jump) our bodyweight actually offers more resistance than a
shotput does for a thrower! It's a lot easier for someone to do a set of 100 bench presses
with a shotput in each hand than it is a set of 100 bodyweight squats! What about doing
100 squats on one leg? Forget it! Now not all athletes in all sports need lots of weight
room training to increase their speed. For example, a 1500-meter runner never uses
maximal forces and momentum is responsible for much of their speed. Yet, in terms of
the ability to accelerate to top speed when starting from a standstill, moving your
bodyweight from a dead stop requires a lot of explosive strength to get going. A funny
car with a 5 horsepower motor aint going anywhere in a hurry, and neither is an athlete
with a 50 pound squat or deadlift!
This is why good sprinters are almost always very strong and powerful relative to
their bodyweight. The stronger you are in the lower body the more force you can put into
the ground with each stride, and, as you already know, the more force you put into the
ground with each stride, the further and faster you go. This is why some Olympic
weightlifters and throwing athletes are nearly as fast as sprinters out to 30 meters. They
dont get that fast from practicing sprinting, they get that fast by being very strong and
having the ability to utilize that strength very quickly.
How Strong Is Strong Enough?
So how strong is strong enough? Well, some sprinters and other speedy athletes
will routinely throw around 3 times their bodyweight in movements such as the squat, so
chances are you dont have to worry about becoming too strong. In my experience, if
you arent squatting more than 3 times your body weight, your maximal strength isnt
hurting you. Thats 450 pounds for a 150-pound athlete not a common feat. Even
then, the problems dont really occur from excessive strength, they occur from the
excessive size, muscular development, and the total investment of time required to build
that strength a time investment that takes away from the time available to focus on
other qualities. Most of you dont have to worry about getting too strong, but you may
need to worry about making better use of the strength you have.
Having said all that, assuming 10% body-fat, a nininv nininv nininv nininv level of strength would be
a 1.5 x bodyweight squat and a 2x bodyweight deadlift with proper form (eg. No back
rounding). Any athlete can easily achieve those numbers with a modicum of proper
What Can Strength Do For You?
Realize that improvements in speed are related to 2 major factors that can be
modified by getting stronger the weight room:
a) Force
b) Rate of force development
Increasing both of these factors will increase power, which is force x speed.
You improve {o.c {o.c {o.c {o.c anytime you increase your strength. You improve vc o{ {o.c vc o{ {o.c vc o{ {o.c vc o{ {o.c
vc.concn vc.concn vc.concn vc.concn when you learn to utilize that strength quickly.
Lets talk about the importance of having both good force and good rate of force

Bodyweight Maximum force or
without time

Max force per
sprint stride (.2


175 lbs. 400 lbs. 200 lbs.

175 lbs. 300 lbs. 225 lbs.

Look at the chart for a moment and try to decide which athlete would have an
advantage in the sprint. Assuming athlete A and B are both the same size, you
can see how they have very different strength patterns. Both of them weigh 175 lbs.
Now look at the row that says maximum force or strength without time
constraint. All were describing here is how much force these athletes can put out
regardless of how long it takes them to apply that force. A maximum squat is an example
of this, since, during a squat, we have ample time to generate max force.

Power-lifting, arm wrestling, and tug-of-war are some sports that come pretty
close to measuring maximum force. In practically every other athletic event, the
movements occur so quickly there isnt enough time to allow true maximum force to be
developed. In this case you see that athlete A reaches a higher peak force and squats more
weight, 400 lbs versus 300 lbs, yet if you look at the 3rd row, the amount of force he can
put out in .2 seconds, (which is roughly the same amount of time it takes to complete a
stride during the first 25 yards of a sprint stride), - athlete As force output is lower then
that of athlete B. Thus, his rate of force development is lower. Therefore, athlete A is
going to be able to squat more than athlete B, but athlete B is probably going to smoke
athlete A in sprint.**

** In order to progress, athlete A would need to improve his ability to quickly express his strength in the sprints, which he
could do by something as simple as engaging in more sprinting practice, which would be specific training for the task at hand.

So, how much force you can put out in a short period of time is going to
determine performance. Dont get too carried away with this just yet though. Although
being able to apply force rapidly is a very useful quality, you still need to have enough
raw horsepower (or raw force), to tap into for anything significant to happen. The 63,
200 lb guy with a max squat of 100 lbs is not going to be getting down the track quickly,
even if he can apply all that force very rapidly.

Here is an example of what that very weak athlete might look like on paper when
we break his strength qualities down like we did above:

Bodyweight Max force
(strength) in the

Max force per
sprint stride
Weak Athlete 150 lbs 100 lbs 95 lbs

Even though this athlete expresses the little bit of strength that he has very
effectively and is able to utilize 95% of his force potential (95 lbs) in the sprint stride, he
still doesnt have enough baseline force to tap into for that awesome rate of force
development to do much good. Hes only capable of squatting 100 lbs and, even though
hes getting 95% of that into the track, hes still only putting out 95 lbs of force which
isnt going to do a whole lot for him!

Now, here is an example of what an ideal athletes maximal force and rate of
force development profile might look like:

Bodyweight Max force
(strength) in the

Max force per
sprint stride
175 lbs 400 lbs 325 lbs

This athlete is very strong and is also capable of utilizing a large percentage of his
max force in a very short time-span, which is ideal. His max squat is 400 lbs. and hes
able to utilize over 75% of that, or 325 lbs., during a sprint stride.

Building Strength.
With that information the foundational role that strength plays in the speed
development process should be evident. When it comes to building strength, it really
doesnt matter how you go about doing it. People really seem to get confused on this
topic. You'll find recommendations touting countless schemes and exercises all supposed
to be better than any other. Some people preach only uni-lateral exercises. Some people
preach only squats while others say NEVER do squats. Some people preach deadlifts as
the cure-all for everything. Some say a person shouldnt lift weights and should instead
do something like push trucks. The average person is often left so confused they don't
have a clue where to start. To be honest, it really doesn't matter how you go about
getting stronger as long as you do it somehow. At the end of the day, all that really
matters is that you're improving your ability to bend your knees, extend your hips and
apply force. You're strengthening the muscles of your hips, quads, hamstrings, and lower
back. There are a myriad of ways to do that. The most common and some of the most
effective exercises that will do that are basic squats, deadlifts etc. The general idea is you
go in and lift a progressively heavier load. You rest a given amount of time, which might
be one day, 2 days, 3 days, on up to a week. Then you come back and lift a heavier
weight. If the bar weight youre lifting on basic movements is increasing on a consistent
basis, so is your strength.
What Strength Really Is
Lets talk for a moment about what strength really is. Strength is really just
another name for the ability to produce tension, or force.
Strength=Tension or Force
Strength is made up of 2 parts: One aspect is determined by how efficient you
and your nervous system are at firing and coordinating the muscles involved in a
movement, which is called neural efficiency. The other main aspect is how big the
muscles are that are fired, which determines how much force is generated when they fire.
Put those 2 things together and you have muscular strength. So, you can get stronger
either by boosting neural efficiency, or by increasing the size of your muscles.
First let's talk about improving the neural aspect of strength. There are two
primary ways the nervous system influences your muscular strength. The first process is
called motor unit recruitment. Specifically, I'm referring to your nervous system's ability
to turn on and fire more motor units. A motor unit is just a grouping of muscle cells or
fibers. A given motor unit may contain a few muscle cells, or it may contain several
hundred. When you decide to fire a muscle a message goes from your brain and down
your spinal cord where it eventually reaches and signals individual muscle motor units to
fire. When a motor unit fires so do all the muscle cells under its control. The more
motor units (muscle fibers) you recruit, the more force you'll produce. Small force tasks
recruit few motor units; large force and/or explosive tasks recruit many motor units. Full
muscular recruitment occurs when maximal force output reaches around 80-85% of your
maximum. So, if your 1 repetition maximal arm curl is 100 pounds and you perform a
set with 80 pounds (80%), you'll be recruiting all of your muscle fibers in the biceps.
However, it's also safe to say that under normal circumstances few people are
capable of utilizing all of their potential strength in a given movement. In fact, an
untrained person may only be able to utilize 50% of their strength potential. Why is that?
Because there's another aspect of neural efficiency called rate coding. Rate coding
allows your muscles to develop more force by enhancing the speed and amplitude at
which electrical neural signals get sent to your muscles telling them to contract. At very
high intensities, a given motor unit will continuously fire and relax and repeat that
process at a very high rate of speed. The repetitive firing of all available motor units
occurs so quickly that there's a summation of force and the ability to produce tension is
magnified. However, the body normally inhibits the full potential of this process as a
protective mechanism to protect you from injuring yourself. If your body didnt have this
safeguard in place and you could easily call upon your full strength potential youd
definitely very strong and powerful, yet you'd probably also stand a good chance of
ripping your tendons right off the bone!
A few examples where you see this protective mechanism naturally over-ridden
are in extreme life or death type circumstances where the body produces tons of
adrenaline. If youve ever heard of small women lifting cars up off their children or PCP
users busting out of handcuffs, what happens in these situations is the extra adrenaline
boosts rate coding and over-rides various mechanisms that normally inhibit the display of
full force potential. But what happens to people in these situations? They often end up
injuring themselves. Some people have a natural propensity to have elevated adrenal
related discharges from the CNS and naturally have better rate coding.*** Fortunately,
with training, one can vastly improve this capacity naturally, which is how powerlifters
and Olympic lifters in the lighter weight classes are able to get so strong.
Let's say you have a strength potential of 200 pounds in the leg curl. This means,
based on the amount of muscle contained in your hamstrings and your body structure, if
all of your available motor units were firing and you were utilizing 100% of your rate
coding capacity, you'd be able to lift 200 pounds. However, an untrained person might
only be able to lift 100 pounds, or 50% of their potential. A highly trained and super
motivated (a.k.a adrenalized) person might be able to lift 180 pounds, or 90% of his
potential.**** So, basically, you can fail to capture a large portion of your force
potential due to either lack of training experience, or lack of time. As mentioned earlier,
in a "fast" movement like a sprint, there's so little time that it's difficult to fully display
your full force capacity.
*** This also explains why those who are naturally very fast, strong, explosive, or powerful often tend to share some common
psychological characteristics (e.g. explosive temperament or the ability to easily become "adrenalized)
**** This extra motor unit recruitment from adrenaline explains why people tend to be stronger, more powerful, and faster in
competitive situations. For example, a powerlifter will tend to deadlift a lot more weight in a meet than in the gym. A basketball
player will tend to jump higher prior to a big game then in training. A sprinter will tend to run faster at a meet than in training etc.
So, with training, you increase your ability to fire motor units and coordinate
motor unit firing (rate coding). That's the major reason why when people first start
strength training they gain a whole lot of strength even in the complete absence of any
size improvements. Obviously, both motor unit recruitment and rate coding take place
when you produce high levels of force with your muscles and they are both involved in a
sprint. Why? Because you need to contract a lot of muscles, very quickly. Importantly,
the neural gains in motor unit recruitment and rate coding that occur through traditional
strength training have a global foundational transference and serve as a foundation for
neural gains occurring in speed-strength activities like a sprint.
Next, let's talk about how the nervous system and muscular system work together
to produce force. Obviously, before a muscle cell can contract, it has to be recruited, or
turned on, by the nervous system. Once it is recruited, it always fires with all of its
force. How much force a muscle cell generates when it fires is determined by how much
protein is contained in it, or how big it is. Some muscle cells are bigger than others, but
how much tension they generate will always be determined by how big they are. When
you add muscle size, the amount of protein contained in your muscle cells increases and
they (the individual muscle cells), get bigger. Thus, each individual muscle cell produces
more force than before. Thus, the tension generated by a given muscle, such as your
biceps, is determined by how many individual bicep muscle cells your nervous system
can turn on and coordinate during a movement, along with the total amount of protein
(size) contained in those muscle cells being recruited.
Strength = Muscle cell recruitment + Frequency of recruitment (rate coding)
+ total size of all the muscle cells being recruited
As an illustration, lets say you have 2 athletes and you want to measure and
compare their strength in the arm curl. Both of them have 100 total muscle cells in the
bicep. Athlete Bs muscle cells are twice as big as Athlete As, yet athlete A is twice as
efficient at firing and coordinating the muscle cells in his bicep:

Size of
Total Tension
Generated if All
Muscle Cells
Were to Fire
Total Muscle Cells
Athlete Can
Coordinate and
Recruit In the Arm
Curl (actual
Amount of
100 Big 100 pounds 100 100 pounds
100 Twice as
200 pounds 50 100 pounds
You can see that they generate the same amount of tension but through very
different means. Athlete A has to take full advantage of his muscular recruitment and
rate coding capacity to generate 100 pounds of tension while athlete B, due to his bigger
muscles, only has to use half of his neural capacity. Thus, athlete A has twice the neural
efficiency of athlete B, but athlete B has twice the muscular size of athlete A. The result
is a wash.
Most people are like Athlete B in that theyre not capable of utilizing all of their
muscles in a given task. The more efficient you get at coordinating and firing your
muscles, the better your neural efficiency gets. This is how weight lifters in the lighter
weight classes and people like gymnasts are able to get so strong for their bodyweight.**
They have extreme neural efficiency. Improvements in neural efficiency allow you to
bridge the gap between your potential strength and actual strength,*** and enable you to
utilize more of the muscle you have.
** From a speed perspective, there is definitely an advantage to having good neural efficiency.
*** The difference between your potential strength and actual strength is also called the strength deficit.
Fortunately, for the above athlete A, he is capable of utilizing all his strength
potential in this task, but unfortunately for athlete B, he is not. If he was hed be
generating twice the tension of athlete A. In athlete Bs case, he could get significantly
stronger simply by boosting his ability to coordinate and utilize the muscle he already
has. He could do this without any increase in muscle size whatsoever. In contrast, the
only way athlete A will get stronger is if he gets a bigger arm.
So, the point to take home is that strength can improve either through increased
neural efficiency, increased muscle size, or both. When it comes to lifting, performing
sets of 3 and below primarily train the neural efficiency aspect. Sets of 6 and more
primarily boost the size aspect. Sets of 3-5 do both. There is a lot of crossover and you
cant totally restrict gains to either neural or muscular, but thats the basic gist of it.

Muscle Mass Increases For a Speed Athlete? Blah!
Although a lot of people preach that a speed athlete should never seek size
increases, a cursory look around at the muscular development of fast athletes tells
otherwise. Look at the lower body hamstring and glute development of a typical fast
athlete in comparison to that of a normal person. Quite a difference isnt there? Lots of
people are born with lots of muscle cells, good muscular development, and lots of
strength in certain areas of their body, such as the hamstrings and glutes. Others are
gonna have to work to add muscle in the right areas so that they can generate more force
from key muscle groups. In other words, if you naturally have an ass like a pancake and
hamstrings resembling toothpicks, youre probably gonna have a hard time generating
much force by those muscle groups until you put some muscle on them, regardless of
how neurally efficient you are.

This Type of Build Aint Gonna Cut It! This is more like it!
A Simple Way To Get Strength Up
Honestly, one of the easiest and simplest routines to get strength up to optimal
levels is to embark on a twice-weekly squat or deadlift routine. Get in the gym on
Monday and work up to a max set of 4-6 reps. Get back in the gym on Thursday or
Friday and work up to another max set of 4-6 reps. Start at 4 reps with a given load.
Once you get 6 reps with that load increase the weight by 5% the following workout and
work back up to 6. Throw in an assistance exercise at the end (such as glute ham raises),
and thats it. Nothing complicated about it. People lacking strength can typically
progress for months on end on a routine that simple.
Heres another very simple approach: An acquaintance of mine wanted to get
stronger but admittedly told me he was too lazy to train consistently. All he did was put a
loaded bar in the garage. Once every day or two he'd go in there and pick the bar up off
the floor for a single or double. He progressively added weight over time. In 6 months
he'd put over 100 pounds on his deadlift and really didn't even have a routine...just a
loaded bar sitting in the garage that he'd make sure to lift occasionally. A simple set-up
like that may not be optimal for everyone, but increasing strength need not be overly

Basic Strength Training Principles
Considering that a complete athletic development program would include work on
mobility, recovery, strength, speed, plyometric, and conditioning work, there's obviously
quite a bit of knowledge that goes in to putting together a complete program. Now, when
you try to make sense of all the complicated and often conflicting information just on the
strength aspect of a program alone, is it any wonder why the process can be so
confusing? Honestly, you could start reading everything there is to read about strength
training and program design today, and 5 years from today you still might not feel totally
confident about what you're doing, simply because there are SO many ways of doing
things and none are really right or wrong. Methods are many but principles are few. All
that really matters is that you're applying progressive resistance (tension) to your
musculature. The body really does not know whether you're doing a higher-faster-sports,
westside, HIT, swiss ball, gymnastics, kettlebell, or any other system. It only knows
tension! Most training schemes do provide some stimulation and no routine is perfect.
Exercises and routines are just tools to improve performance. No tool is more
important then whether or not the tool gets the job done. If your car breaks down, it
doesn't matter if you use a rock, a crescent wrench, bailing wire, or an entire set of snap
on tools to fix it, the important thing is that it gets fixed. Raising performance or getting
stronger is the same way. I like to tell people to imagine yourself out on a deserted island
without any technology, tools, or anything. Strength stimulation for someone in this
situation would consist of dealing with everyday life (chasing prey, running away from
predators, lifting rocks to build a hut etc.) You could take an athlete today, put him on a
deserted island, and he could stimulate performance improvements without a single
modern day tool to work with or any specialized strength training knowledge - his life
would depend on it.
Having said that I'd like to give you some general principles or guidelines to
follow as far as frequency, volume, intensity, and content of strength work.
1. When it comes to lifting frequency, twice a week per muscle group or per lift works
just as good as 3 times per week. You dont make gains when you train, you make gains
when you recover from the training that you do. Athletes engaged in lots of practice,
games, or other work can even progress just fine with an exposure of once per week.
2. When it comes to how much weight to use (intensity), strength responds best to loads
between 70 and 100% of your 1rm. That generally means you perform anywhere from 1
to 15 reps per set. The more advanced you become, the better you tend to respond to
lower reps and weights of at least 80% 1rm.
3. When it comes to volume, there really aren't any strict minimal or maximal volume
rules, but there are guidelines. The lower the reps, the more sets you'll want to perform.
If you dont feel like counting sets, one simple way to monitor volume is by the drop-off
method. Work up to a hard maximal effort for a given number of reps. Lets say you
work up to 100 pounds for 5 reps on a given exercise. Keep performing sets with the
same weight until you can no longer get 5 reps. Simple but effective. This works
particularly well for pure neural-related strength gains. For neural and muscular (a.k.a.
size) related strength gains, which do require a fatigue component, you might work up to
a hard effort and stop when your performance drops off by more than a couple of reps.
So, using the above example of working up to a hard set of 100 pounds for 5 reps, youd
continue to perform sets until you could only perform 3 reps.
4. When it comes to content, compound multi-joint movements are superior to isolation
movements. One exercise per major muscle group is generally sufficient.
5. When it comes to percentages, I generally recommend basing your loads on effort
rather then percentages. In other words, if a scheme calls for you to do sets of 5, instead
of worrying about what percentage to follow, simply work with a weight that allows you
to complete about 5 reps in good form and increase weight when you can.
6. As far as periodization goes, people that have been training for a while tend to note
slightly better gains by varying the sets and reps on a weekly basis in a step type loading
approach. You slightly increase or cycle the load up and down for several weeks then
take a step back to allow recovery to take place. Once every 3 to 6 weeks you'll generally
want to have an "easy" or unloading week, where you reduce the volume by about 40 to
50%. I prefer a 4-week cycle for most athletes. Generally speaking, the set and rep
scheme will vary depending on the level of athlete.
A weekly set and rep scheme for a beginner or intermediate might look like this:
Week 1: 3x6
Week 2: 4x5
Week 3: 5x4
Week 4: 3x4
A stronger more advanced athlete might follow something like this:
Week 1: 4x3
Week 2: 5x3
Week 3: 6x2
Week 4: 3x3 (easy)
There are countless ways to set things up based on this principal of step type loading,
undulating periodization, or whatever you want to call it, but the general theme is a
variance in sets and reps. I prefer to increase the weight and fluctuate the volume on a
weekly basis but there are hundreds of ways of approaching it. A simple cookie cutter
whole body program for high school athletes might follow a scheme like this:
Monday - Back Squat, Bench Press, Pullup
Wednesday Power Clean, Trap Bar Deadlift
Friday Front Squat, Incline Bench, Pullup
Week 1: 3 x 6
Week 2: 5 x 5
Week 3: 5 x 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Week 4: 3 x 3
Not perfect, but gets the job done. Just keep in mind, regardless of what you do
or how you go about doing it, when it comes to building strength, you're increasing your
ability to exert force. All that requires is some form of tension. There are plenty of tools
at your disposal. As I will talk about later on, at times you can also benefit from fancy
specialty exercises such as sled pulls, truck pushes, and the like.
Strength and Its Relationship To Power, Strength Expression,
and Rate of Force Development
You can use terms like strength expression and rate of force development
interchangeably. In the big scheme of things they pretty much mean the same thing,
which is the ability to quickly demonstrate strength. You can basically think of them as
the speed aspect of power and explosiveness. Since explosiveness (power) is a function
of force and speed (force x speed), and sprinting is a display of explosiveness, often just
increasing the force potential, or strength, of the appropriate muscles, will provide a
world of improvement.
For example, if a strength score for an athlete was 2, and the athlete's speed score was
also 2, his explosiveness rating would be 4:
2(speed) x 2(strength) = 4 (explosiveness)
Doubling the athletes strength would double his explosiveness:
2(speed) x 4(strength) = 8 (explosiveness)
Doubling the athletes speed without altering strength would also double his
explosiveness: **
4(speed) x 2(strength) = 8(explosiveness)
**This is really a pretty unrealistic example because the speed part of the equation is under a lot more genetic control than the
strength part. This is why you never see someone double or triple the absolute speed they can move their hands or feet through the
air, yet its not at all uncommon to see them double their strength on basic movements (bench press, squat etc.).
If the same athlete made a 50 percent gain in both speed and strength his explosiveness
rating would be:
3(speed) x 3(strength) = 9 (explosiveness)
So, it should be obvious an increase in explosiveness (horsepower), and thus running
speed, will result if you either increase the baseline levels of strength, the speed at which
you demonstrate strength, or both.
**Relative to this example you increase strength anytime you increase the poundages of key exercises like deadlifts and squats. You
increase speed anytime you increase the ability to express that strength.
So, basically there are 3 ways to improve explosiveness. You can:
1. Focus more on the speed side of the equation. Here youre training the nervous system
to ultimately produce faster contractions. Youre bridging the gap between the amount of
total force you can exert regardless of speed, (or the amount of strength you have), and
the amount of that force you can display at high speeds. ** Examples are: sprints,
plyometric exercises, loadless (bodyweight) exercises, medicine ball tosses, sled sprints,
Olympic lifts, and weight training using 60% of your max or less performed with great
** The difference between the amount of strength you have and the amount of strength you can display at high speeds is also
known as the explosive strength deficit.
2. You can also improve explosiveness through focusing on the strength side of the
equation. Here youre simply improving the raw strength you have. This could take the
form of 2 general approaches. They are:
A: Using 80-90% of your max in a given exercise for multiple sets of low repetitions in
an effort to improve neural efficiency. (E.g. 3-5 sets of 2-3 reps)
B: Using 60-80% of your max for higher reps in an effort to induce muscle growth. (E.g.
3-4 sets of 8-10 reps)
3. You can do both.
Now, with so many options to choose from, which approach would be optimal for
you? It's really quite simple. The optimal approach requires either zeroing in on your
weak area, whether its raw strength or the speed at which you display strength, while
maintaining the other, or improving them both simultaneously.
Obviously, if both factors can be improved with a specific routine it would be
more efficient than just improving one aspect.
So, how can you improve the speed at which you display strength while
simultaneously getting stronger? Well, the intent to contract explosively provides a high
velocity specific effect and improves neural efficiency. When you lift heavy loads to
improve your strength, the resistance may move fairly slowly, yet as long as some incn incn incn incn
to move fairly explosively is there, the explosive nature of the contraction results in
improvements in both maximal strength and rate of force development. Thus you get the
best of both worlds.
Best Exercises?
When it comes to exercise choice, I prefer to keep it simple. Some of the best
exercises for an athlete interested in speed development include general strengthening
exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, glute-ham raises, leg curls, romanian deadlifts,
reverse hyperextensions, and split squats. More specific explosive strength exercises
such as speed squats and jump squats can also be used. The above exercises should be
performed with a controlled lowering phase and some emphasis on accelerating through
the concentric phase of the movement.

Additionally, we can also utilize high velocity movements that allow us to zero in
on the speed part of explosive strength. Plyometric drills along with sprinting itself fit
the bill here.
Slow Strength Training Movements vs Fast Strength
Training Movements
One debate that often arises between coaches and athletes is whether basic heavy
strength training movements such as squats and deadlifts with heavy (80% + loads) are
superior or inferior to lighter weight, high speed strength training movements (also called
power movements) such as olympic lifts, speed squats, jump squats etc. Really, there is
no doubt that the heavy strength training movements are far superior when it comes to
increasing strength. The only real way to increase baseline levels of strength is to lift a
fairly heavy load (70-100% of 1 rep max). When lifting such a load, the weight does not
move very fast, because it is obviously too heavy to move all that fast.
However, some say, Well, since our objective is to move fast on the field, we
must move fast when we train! This leads some to favor using loads with 20-60% of their
1 rep max on basic exercises such as squats and performing the lifts with great speed.**
This is otherwise known as power, or explosive strength training. This type of training
can help an athlete learn to express his strength more quickly, yet before an athlete can
express strength, he has to have some strength to express, which is one reason why one
who hasn't achieved a minimal level of strength should focus on the heavy basics in the
weight room, and for the most part, stay away from the lighter weight high speed
** The Olympic lifts such as the power clean and snatch are inherently high-speed power movements so one need not train with
lighter percentages on these lifts to be in the power- training zone. Even an 80-90% snatch or clean, although heavy, still must be
performed fast or it simply wont go up!
Another way of looking at it is to think of basic strength as the size of an engine
and explosive strength, power, rate of force development etc. as the modifications you
can make to that engine to make it run faster, or express its horsepower better. You can
make a smaller motor run faster by boring out the cylinders, inserting high tech spark
plugs, running special fuel, and doing a ton of other high tech things. However, if you
don't have a big enough motor to start with in the first place, you can do all the
modifications you want but it won't do you any good! A weak athlete choosing lots of
high speed lighter weight training movements over basic strength movements would be
like someone trying to race a stock issue Honda Civic against F-1 race cars thinking he
could get his Honda as fast as the F-1 cars by simply modifying the engine! There's
simply not enough basic horsepower to compete, regardless of what modifications are
made. Therefore, it's much more economical for an athlete to spend the time laying down
a strength foundation before attempting to get overly "cute" in the weight room trying to
better express strength that he doesnt even have.
What's also debatable is whether or not performing lighter weight exercises such
as olympic lifts, speed squats, and jump squats can offer an athlete any extra ability to
express his strength that he wouldn't get from simply participating in sport. Since
sporting movements are already faster than any explosive movements that can be
performed in the weight room and these activities by themselves will also develop the
speed side of the explosive power equation, what's the point of trying to work on learning
to express strength better in the weight room? Why not just take the straight line
approach and build the size and horsepower of the motor in the weight room and let the
on-field activities such as sprinting, agility, plyometric work etc. take care of the
conversion and modifications? Since movements like sprinting, jumping, agility work,
and plyometrics are inherently performed very fast and already help us express strength
quicker, is there any need for specific explosive work in the weight room if one is
engaging in these activities? Some say yes and some say no. It's an interesting
So what Does Kelly Say?
Although I often do recommend some explosive weight room training like jump
squats, lighter box squats, and Olympic lifts, if I had to choose one or the other, I tend to
lean more towards the camp that says the weight room should serve as a place to develop
strength while the sport and other activities more closely resembling it (sprinting,
plyometrics, etc.) should be used as the place where the athlete teaches his system how to
demonstrate that strength quicker. In other words, if youre strong but have a hard time
expressing your strength in the sprint in my opinion the best thing you can do to gain that
ability is engage in sprinting type activities. If you need to learn to express your strength
better in the jump the single best thing you can do is jump. If youre a football player
and you wanna be a hitting machine get very strong relative to your bodyweight and
master the art of hitting. Nothing really complicated about it.
Having said that, from a loading standpoint, there is some value in performing
specific explosive variations in the weight room. One of the advantages is that the
explosive variations are inherently less draining then heavier movements and offer an
athlete a chance to stimulate the body without causing excessive drain. Heavy strength
training induces a lot of neuromuscular fatigue and can take quite a bit of time to recover
from. The stronger an individual is, the more fatigue he tends to induce from a heavy
session. A very strong athlete might come in the gym on a Monday, perform a heavy
squat ordeadlift session, and might not be able to repeat and improve upon that session
again until the following Monday. However, after that heavy Monday workout he could
probably get back in the gym on Thursday or Friday and do a workout consisting of
something like lighter speed squats with 50-60% of his 1 rep max. That would allow him
to get some stimulation on his body while still allowing recovery to take place. The
following Monday he'd be ready to tackle his heavy workout again.
In addition, working with the power movements can allow us to get some speed
and acceleration work in during times of the year when we might not be out on our feet
much working on those things. For example, a sprinter who lives in the north might use
movements like hang cleans and jump squats with a bit more regularity during the dead
of the winter, because chances are hes gonna be snowed in and not able to get out on his
feet. These movements will allow him to stimulate his nervous system in a high-velocity
manner and help him avoid any explosive type detraining that takes place.
Strength Work and Fatigue..
Additionally, when an athlete is really working to peak, or demonstrate, his
explosiveness, he wants to be as fresh as possible. As mentioned, the heavier strength
movements can cause a lot of neuromuscular fatigue and that fatigue can temporarily
mask his fitness state. When an athlete really wants to focus on his speed and
explosiveness he can replace some of the heavier strength movements with lighter more
explosive variations so that he can remove some fatigue. That would allow him to really
demonstrate his true explosiveness. If an athlete had an important upcoming testing or
timing date somewhere between 1-4 weeks prior to the test date I'd taper the strength
training down to a low maintenance level (a couple of heavy sets of 3 once per week) and
replace that volume with either more explosive weight room work (speed squats, jump
squats, o-lifts etc.) or more specific on-field activity (plyometrics, sprints, etc.).
An athlete that is already strong but who really needs lots of work on speed and
movement efficiency work could also benefit from less heavy weight training for the
same reason. By not creating excessive fatigue he'd be better able to direct his energy
towards improving those qualities.
Those Squats Make Me Feel Slow
The issue of fatigue is also one reason why people may not always feel as
explosive or springy when they're engaging in a lot of strength training, yet as soon as
they reduce the volume of strength work they remove a lot of that fatigue and suddenly
VOILA...they're running on water and jumping out of the gym! They got a lot stronger
and were getting more explosive from the strength training, they just werent able to
properly display that explosiveness until they removed some of the fatigue. Fatigue
masks fitness. They didnt get faster by eliminating the squats, they got faster by
removing the fatigue the squats were creating in their legs. Sometimes you have to
temporarily take a step back in order to take a step forward.
The take-home point is this: If you have to choose one or the other, when youre
in the weight room, always go with the basic heavy strength training movements for reps
of 8 or less. You can't fire a cannon out of a canoe and make sure you have a good
foundation in place and a base of horsepower to display before you get too cute and
worry about modifying that horsepower.
Improving Stride Rate
I touched on stride rate earlier and noted that there is a strong genetic component
regarding how fast your legs move. There is also an important quality involved in how
much force you can produce per foot-strike when your legs are moving at a very rapid
rate. Why is it that some people can accelerate very quickly and are very fast over short
distances but dont have great top speed? Why is it that some people have great top
speed but dont accelerate real well? Basically, some people are better at creating force
at high speeds while others are better at creating force at slower speeds. One of the
things we can do to help elucidate this concept is look at research that compares sprinting
speeds to the vertical jump.
Research has shown a strong correlation between maximal top sprinting speed
and the ratio between vertical jump height and ground contact times during the execution
of the vertical jump. You might want to read that line again because I know it sounds
confusing. Basically what the research demonstrates is this: Athletes who could jump
the highest with the shortest ground contact times during their amortization phase (switch
from down to up at the plant), typically had greater top running speeds. Therefore, those
who spend less time on the ground when they jump, also tend to run at peak higher
Some athletes might have a great vertical jump, yet they develop their power from
a deeper knee bend and longer amortization phase. These athletes may have great
acceleration abilities, but not a great top speed when they run.
How does this relate to what I said about some people being better at creating
force at high speeds while others are better at applying force at slower speeds? Well,
during the acceleration phase of a sprint, the feet stay in contact with the ground longer,
which allows people more time to utilize their leg strength. For overall top speed, you
must be able to train yourself to apply force quicker to enhance the other half of the speed
equation - that being stride rate. Having good stride rate is obviously more important as
one reaches tops speed. When running at top speed an athlete maintains speed by
continually applying great forces with quick limb movements.
So how do we improve stride rate? Well, as noted, the bad thing about improving
stride rate is that it does have a significant genetic component. However, like anything
else, genetics may be a big factor, but not the only factor. Stride rate can be improved to
a good extent by the same process that improves stride length. Think about it. The
harder you bounce a basketball against the court, the faster the basketball comes back at
you during the rebound phase. The more force you put into the ground during a foot-
strike and the more proficient you are at absorbing that force, the faster and easier your
foot rebounds off the ground. So not only can improving ground reaction force improve
your stride length, it can also improve your stride rate.
You can also engage in specific short response plyometric drills. Short response
means that the time your feet spend on the ground in these drills is very quick, around
100-150 milliseconds. Probably the best short response plyometric drill is the act of
sprinting itself. Accelerating to top speed and holding that top speed is likely the best
plyometric drill there is for training short response time, which can lead to an
improvement in stride rate. A flying 20-yard dash is an example of a good short
response reactive drill. Here you accelerate to top speed and try to hold top speed for 20
Over-speed training, which calls for using devices such as treadmills, decline
running, and elastic tubing to move you at speeds exceeding your normal maximum
speed is often advertised as an excellent method to increase stride rate, yet it also may
cause a deterioration in running technique. Therefore, I dont recommend it. The
worlds best sprinters dont use these techniques and I wouldnt recommend you use
them either. Now, having said all that, as it turns out, having a great stride rate vnv a
great top speed are not all that important for improving something like a 40-yard dash
anyway. To understand why, lets take a look at the differences between top speed and
Top Speed vs Acceleration
In a sprint, force can either be primarily generated by the muscles, or it can be
generated primarily by the tendons. When force is generated by the muscles, we call this
.ovnv, c_o.i.c {o.c .ovnv, c_o.i.c {o.c .ovnv, c_o.i.c {o.c .ovnv, c_o.i.c {o.c. When the force is primarily generated by the tendons, we call this
in.ovnv, cv.i.c {o.c in.ovnv, cv.i.c {o.c in.ovnv, cv.i.c {o.c in.ovnv, cv.i.c {o.c. **
Voluntary explosive force=force generated by the muscles
Involuntary reactive force=force generated by the tendons
**We also call involuntary force, plyometric force or reactive strength
The difference between the 2 is fairly easy to comprehend. One is voluntary,
which basically means we have to work for it. The other is involuntary, which basically
means it comes for free. Crouch down into a quarter squat, pause for 3 seconds, and
jump as high as you can. Next, jump like you normally would (stand tall and execute a
quick countermovement and jump). Why is it harder to jump from the pause position?
Because all the force you generate is pure voluntary muscular force. Why can you get
higher by using a quick countermovement? Because when you perform your quick
countermovement you stretch the tendons and they act like rubber bands giving you extra
involuntary reactive force. Did you have to try any harder to generate that extra force?
No, it came entirely for free. Now, say you take a big running start and jump. You get
even higher dont you? Thats because by moving into your jump at a good rate of speed
you gain even more involuntary reactive force then normal. Simple concept.
Lets talk about how this relates to sprinting: The greater the movement speed
and the less time your feet spend on the ground the more involuntary reactive force tends
to dominate. Therefore, the start of a sprint is nearly all voluntary explosive strength
while sprinting at top speed is nearly all involuntary reactive force.
At the start of a race, when youre accelerating, youre not gonna be moving as
fast as you are when you reach top speed. Not exactly an observation worthy of a nobel
prize but true nonetheless. Your feet are gonna be on the ground longer. Thus, you have
more time to plant your feet, push, and generate voluntary force. Nothing too
complicated about that. For this reason, your pound per pound strength (relative
strength) is much more important at the start of the race than it is once top speed is
reached. With the shorter ground contact times inherent to top speed sprinting, most of
the force generated is involuntary reactive force generated by the tendons.
As you accelerate and go faster the length of time you spend on the ground
naturally diminishes so your window, or time you have to apply force, decreases. At the
beginning of a race your feet might be on the ground .2 seconds. At top speed the foot
might be on the ground .1 seconds (1 tenth of a second). Any decent athlete will spend
very, very, little time on the ground when they hit top speed. A good 100-meter sprinter
will typically reach top speed at around 50-60 meters. An average athlete might reach
top speed at 30-40 meters.
Now pay attention here: Individual ability for an athlete to v..ccvc v..ccvc v..ccvc v..ccvc to their top
speed, what their o .ccv o .ccv o .ccv o .ccv is once it is reached, and their ability to nov nov nov nov that top speed, can
vary quite a bit between athletes. This can be exemplified by looking at a shot putter or
Olympic lifter. These athletes can develop great power, typically jump high, accelerate
very quickly, and they are very fast over short distances. However, they may not have a
high top sprinting speed or ability to hold that speed over distances. This can also work
the other way. An athlete may have a very good top speed yet not be able to accelerate to
that top speed very quickly. Generally speaking, the stronger an athlete is relative to his
bodyweight, the faster he will be over short distances. The more gifted an athlete is in
the ideal sprinting structure department, the more potential he has for a great top speed.
In the case of something like a 40-yard dash, it is definitely an event of short
distance and acceleration, so your ability to be extremely efficient applying force with
very short ground contact times and having a great top speed is not nearly as important as
it is if you were running a distance of 60-100 meters. Because of this, relative body
strength, voluntary explosive strength, and acceleration ability** are more important in
a 40 yard dash then they might be in a 100 meter dash, where the ability to have a high
top speed and generate lots of involuntary reactive force becomes more important!
Again, this is also why many athletes can be competitive in short distances but not long.
They lack the quick natural reflexive ability demanded by that short ground contact times
that are inherent when speed increases a lot of that is also dependent upon body
structure (limb lengths and tendon lengths).
**All of these are highly trainable qualities
In conclusion, greater acceleration and speed can be accomplished by improving
relative strength and rate of force development. Relative and explosive strength can be
developed in the weight room by lifting heavy weights with intense effort. You can get
significantly faster by becoming stronger. High-speed strength adaptations can be
achieved with the intent to contract explosively. In other words, the muscle can become
more powerful (force x speed) even if the limbs move fairly slowly due to the inertia of a
heavy weight.
Obviously, you must always take your training improvements out to the track or
field and refine the co-ordination needed to move as efficiently as possible. Once a
foundation of strength, explosiveness, and acceleration is in place, stride rate can be
improved by decreasing contact time by engaging in specific practice running at top
Sprinting Technique
No two athletes run exactly the same way however, sprinting mechanics should
remain relatively the same for all athletes. Running is instinctive so if you try to make
big changes to your technique, or run like a robot, your performance will probably be less
than optimal. As an athlete, you must be aware of what is natural and what is unnatural.
If you are unaware of this difference your voluntary effort to dramatically change
technique can slow you down. Often athletes feel that they have to bear down and stay
low and pull in order to run fast. The scientific analysis of running suggests just the
opposite. Reaching maximum speed depends greatly upon how relaxed you can keep
your body in a naturally upright position. The human body is much better at pushing
than pulling, therefore, the suggestion to stay low and pull prevents maximum speed.
If you want to run faster, remember that sprinting is primarily a reflexive action
against the ground. When your foot makes contact with the ground, it must be directly
under your bodys center of gravity. Therefore, you shouldnt reach or pull excessively.
When the foot makes contact with the ground, it will be moving slightly backward yet the
feel should be of pushing nearly straight down.
If you increase your natural reaction forces against the ground you will inherently
drive the bodys center of mass further forward which lengthens the stride naturally. If
you were to think to yourself, Ok Im really gonna try to apply a lot of force and Im
gonna try to cover as much ground as possible, your hips will lower and your lead foot
will just end up landing too far out in front of your body ahead of your center of gravity.
At the same time, your trail leg will flail way behind you. This is known as over-striding
and it will cause a braking effect resulting in a loss of speed. Along these same lines,
trying to force a greater stride frequency by consciously taking quicker steps will only
produce a shorter stride length and result in a loss of speed. You need to learn to stay
relaxed and run and let your body take its natural course.
Relax and Let It Happen..
According to world famous sprint coach Charlie Francis, sprinting is a primitive
hindbrain reflexive activity. Remember what I was saying about primal movements.
You cant try to turn the sprint stride into a calculus equation. You can anticipate the
ground contact phase and prepare your body ahead of time, yet if you try to voluntarily
do anything during the ground contact phase itself, you will just mess everything up.
This becomes more important the further into a sprint you go.
You can often get away with bad mechanics during the initial acceleration phase
which is one reason why a lot of athletes who don't do any sprinting can still be fast out
of the gate. Yet get past 20-30 yards out and you'll run into problems.
Let me give you an example that coach Francis uses to describe what I see
happening with a lot of people. Have you ever ridden a scooter? Imagine taking off on a
scooter. As you accelerate you reach ahead with your foot, bend the knee of your plant
leg, dig in, and pull. However, what happens if you try to do this once you get going at a
really good clip? Once you reach a certain speed you just slow yourself down by trying to
grab and "dig in". Once youre going at a decent clip on the scooter the only way to go
faster is by applying very short and quick strokes down and back into the pavement.
Sprinting is the same way. The faster you try to go, and the more you try to reach
and push, the worse your mechanics get.
A Few Simple Cues
After giving this much thought and observation, I now use just a few very simple
cues. They are smooth, up, over, and down.
A: Smooth stands for smooth on the feet. In order to be smooth you can't be
back on your heels. Get someone to watch or record you sprinting normally. Make sure
you're striking the ground with the front half or the balls of your feet and not the heels. If
youre heel-striking, youll hear it. This will also help to cure problems with over-
B: Up and over- When your plant foot comes off the ground (recovers), pull your
knee through and allow the foot of your off leg to come up and over your support leg at a
height just below the knee of the support leg. When your foot comes off the ground, the
foot itself should be point down, but the big toe should be pulled up.
C: Is Down. When you go to strike the ground, simply push down directly under
your center of gravity at the same angle as the upper body lean. Instead of trying to do
something overly dramatic like reaching out, pulling back, or bearing down, just focus on
standing tall and pushing down into the ground with each stride. There is obviously some
horizontal backward force that occurs in the sprint. If the force was only vertical you
would only go up. However, the backward forces will be there naturally without any
deliberate attempt to emphasize them. The proper backward action happens over such a
short period of time that it can barely be sensed, any attempt to emphasize the backward
motion will result in a breakdown of form.

Up and Over
If a person just does those simple things everything else will pretty much take
care of itself and the stride will resemble a nice and tight circle. Staying on the balls of
the feet inherently will keep the hips elevated and eliminate over-striding and heel
striking. Pushing down directly under the center of gravity will do the same. Allowing the
off foot to come up towards the support knee will cure an assortment of other common
mechanical problems.
One drill I like to use to help drive home basic technique is known as the wall
slide. Simply get on the balls of the feet and take natural strides up and down like a

The Stride Cycle
Now that Ive given you the cues, lets talk a minute about the specifics of what
those cues are designed to address. During your running stride, your leg cycles through
three different phases: the drive phase, when the foot is in contact with the ground; the
recovery phase, when the leg swings from the hip while the foot clears the ground; and
the support phase, when your weight is on the entire foot.

During the drive phase, the power comes from a pushing action off the ball of the
foot. Recall that stride length is the result of ground reaction forces. The goal of the
drive phase is to create the maximum reaction force off the ground. The ball of the foot
is the only part of the foot capable of creating an efficient and powerful push. Some
people believe the pushing action should come from the toes. However, pushing from the
toes reduces both power and stability and slows the runner.

Getting Full Extension

As you drive off the ball of your foot, your plant leg should extend fully with each
stride so that you dont chop your stride short. ** Full extension should happen
automatically. Although the movement is more of a push than a pull, its actually more
of a natural plant rather than a push. Your focus should only be on absorbing the ground
reaction force. If you intentionally try and/or think about pushing, youll just end up
lowering your center of gravity and bending your plant leg excessively so that you can
create more momentum to push with. This is a big mistake and is something that many
athletes do. It tends to eliminate the posterior chain from the movement and kills
involuntary ground reaction forces and turns them into voluntary push forces. Or in
other words, it means youre muscling the movement.

** Getting full extension is something many young athletes may not be able to do initially because theyre not strong enough in key
muscle groups.

Trying to muscle a sprint will cut down on your stride length and royally screw up
your technique. Watch how people run. Watch how straight the plant leg is at ground
contact and watch if it extends fully with each stride. If there is a lack of full extension,
the athlete is either too weak or hes under utilizing the hamstrings and over utilizing the
quadriceps. By relaxing and getting full extension, the involuntary muscle activation in
the hamstrings is 120-140% of what it is with regular voluntary effort. (Wiemann, Tidow,
1995) If you try to push or pull too much, your hips will lower and this makes it about
impossible to naturally react against the ground - Instead of reacting you'll be pushing.
This is why struggling to go faster doesn't do any good and will in fact slow you down!

Stand straight up with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift one knee up, keep your
chest high, keep your plant leg completely straight, and rise up on the ball of your plant
foot. Do you feel your hamstring contract? Now do the same thing but bend the knee of
your plant leg. Do you feel your quadriceps and glutes? Ideally, you want to emphasize
the first position. Keep your hips high and get that full extension of the plant leg with
each stride. During the acceleration phase of a race you dont want to try to rise up into
the tall position too quickly, but even at the very start you want to get a full extension.

What follows are some illustrations of full and partial extension:

minor lack of full extension (weak hamstrings) good extension of the plant leg

Hips too low, plant leg bent excessively, collapsing heels- too much voluntary pushing


Good hip height good reaction against the ground good engagement of the posterior

Recovery Phase

During the recovery phase the knee joint closes and the swing foot cycles through
as it comes close to the body. As the knee joint opens and the swing leg begins to
straighten, the foot comes closer to the ground in preparation for the support phase. An
important point to remember about the recovery phase is that you should not reach for
the ground or try to force a stamping action. The leg should remain relaxed and you
should allow the foot to naturally strike the ground. You shouldnt focus on thrusting the
knees high or any other exaggerated movement. Just swing the ankle of the swing leg up
towards the knee of the support leg, step over, and down.

Arm Action

Arm action in sprinting is important when trying to develop an efficient stride.
The arms work in opposition to the legs, with the right arm and left leg coming forward
as the left arm and right leg go backward and vice versa. You should pump the arms with
the emphasis on the down stroke. The shoulders should be as relaxed as possible with the
swing coming from the shoulder joint. The shoulders should stay square to the direction
of the run. The swing should be strong but relaxed. The hands should also be relaxed.
The elbows should stay close to the body. Attempts to keep the elbows away from the
body will prevent relaxation of the shoulders and limit efficient running mechanics. The
arm action in sprinting is never forced or tense. If you have problems relaxing one thing
you can do is hold a potato chip in each hand as you run. If you smash the chips you
know youre tightening up too much.

The Feet

During the support phase the foot makes the initial contact with the ground on the
ball of the foot. The weight of the body is then supported at a point that varies according
to how fast youre going. The faster the speed, the higher the contact point on the ball of
the foot. Striking the ground first with this part of the foot serves to maximize speed but
takes great energy. At a slower speed, jogging for example, the contact point moves
toward the rear of the foot between the arch and heel. At all running speeds, the support
phase begins with a slight load on the support foot that then rides onto the full sole.
When running at full speed, the feeling should be that of running up on the balls of the
feet, but the heel can and often does make a brief contact with the ground. It is difficult if
not impossible to reach maximum speed by consciously running way up on your toes.

Heel Running Vs Toe Running

Now, having said that, I would like to introduce the concept of what I call heel
running vs that of toe running. When I talk about some of the aforementioned problems
like lack of extension, this is a big part of that. Watch fast people run and watch slow
people run and note the differences. One thing you'll probably notice is that slow people
have a tendency to run back on their heels and they make a lot of noise when they run.
Slap, slap, slap. Fast people appear as if theyre running more up on the balls of their feet
and are typically as smooth and quiet as a butterfly. They naturally get full extension and
react off the ground with each footstrike - like a rock skipping across water.

Function Follows Form

One of the major things that causes the differences is muscle balance. With
sprinting, function largely tends to follow form. In other words, sprinting technique is
largely dependent upon what muscles are strong and what muscles are weak. A lot of
people have strength but they don't have balanced strength. They're strong in the wrong
muscle groups, weak in the wrong muscle groups, and their running technique tends to
reflect that. The main contributors to the sprint stride are the muscles of the quadriceps,
glutes, and hamstrings. For technique and function to be optimal, the sprint stride should
be posterior chain dominant. This means the prime movers should be the muscles of the
glutes and hamstrings. A lot of people think the feet and calves are really important for
all athletes, but the hips are what produce force. When the hips and hamstrings are the
prime movers, the stride tends to be characterized by the sprinter being nice and smooth
up on the balls of his feet with little knee bend at impact and without the appearance of
lots of bending and pushing. His feet will tend to strike the ground right under his center
of gravity. In contrast, when the quadriceps are excessively dominant or when the
posterior chain is weak, the stride tends to be characterized by being back on the heels
with lots of knee bend, lots of noise, and lots of pushing. People will bend their knees and
get back on their heels in an effort to utilize their stronger quadriceps. Theyll also tend
to reach out in front of their body with their plant leg and strike on their heels.

Take a group of athletes, get behind them, and simply watch them take off in a
sprint. You can immediately tell which ones are which. A quadricep dominant sprint
stride makes it difficult to sprint effectively particularly at top speeds. Therefore, in my
opinion one should seek a posterior chain dominant sprint cycle.

Although it's difficult to get really accurate measures when assessing the balance
between the quadriceps vs the posterior chain, it's probably safe to assume the average
trainee has a ratio of about 70% quadricep to 30% hamstring strength ratio. This means
the quadriceps are twice as strong as the hamstrings. Contrast this to elite sprinters, who
may lean towards a 60:40 hamstring to quadricep ratio. One simple way you can help
assess your balance in this department is to compare your standing broad jump to a single
leg triple jump. First measure your normal standing broad jump. Next, stand on one leg
and execute 3 consecutive single leg jumps. The total distance of the 3 jumps should be
approaching 2.5 to 3 times the distance of your standing broad jump.

Another assessment you can do is check the mobility of the quadriceps and rectus
femoris. I have noticed one with excessively dominant quadriceps will tend to be very
tight in these areas.** The rectus femoris is the muscle that attaches to your hip and runs
straight down the middle of your thigh.

Rectus femoris

One simple way you can check mobility in this area is just reach back, grab your
heel and pull it up to the butt. If the quads or rectus femoris are overly tight, pulling the
heel up to the glute will often be difficult.

Good quadriceps/rectus femoris flexibility

Tight Quadriceps/rectus femoris (over-dominant quads)

Someone with this problem will really need to stretch the quads and rectus
femoris at least twice a day for 20 seconds, utilize plenty of dynamic stretches, and get
away from any quadricep dominant activity. ***

**A recent study also indicated that having excessively tight quadriceps and rectus femoris was the best predictor of knee pain.

*** Dynamic stretching will be covered further along in this manual.

Quad/RF stretch

How do we get a dominant posterior chain and how does a person become
excessively quad dominant in the first place? Well, the quadriceps can NEVER be too
strong, they can only be too strong for the other muscle groups. The quadriceps are
important, particularly for the start of a sprint. However, if a person is either born with
dominant quadriceps or does lots of squatting to the exclusion of all else they will often
tend to develop some of these problems. One with excessively strong and tight
quadriceps, along with weak hamstrings, should, in my opinion, avoid most squat
variations and use either deadlift variations or wide stance box squats as foundational
strength training movements. ***

Box Squat

*** The box squat is much more of a glute and hamstring dominant movement.

What about people who dont have tight quadriceps but do appear to have a weak
posterior chain? Thats a group that will actually include the large majority of young
athletes. Fortunately, that problem will remedy itself with time and proper training as I
lay out in this manual. What about everyone else? Just make sure you ALWAYS
prioritize hamstrings and glutes in your training. The best exercise for the glutes is the
basic barbell squat, yet it's also the best exercise for the quadriceps. There's nothing
wrong with developing strong quadriceps, you just gotta make sure the hamstrings stay in
balance and mobility is maintained in the quads and rectus femoris. Glute ham raises, leg
curls, pull throughs, reverse hyper-extensions, good mornings, and sled drags, are all
effective hamstring exercises and should be utilized.

Heavy Feet

If a person has good muscle balance and flexibility and theyre still heavy on their
feet they might just have problems with their footwork and may need to spend some time
performing drills specifically designed to get them more coordinated and fluid on their
feet. You can have a car with the most powerful motor in the world, yet if its got flat
tires its not going anywhere! The same thing goes with an athlete and his feet. You can
be a PERFECT athlete from the ankles up but your feet are what get power into the
ground. One thing that can cause this problem is todays popular footwear. Many
athletes wear shoes that are too heavy, too big, and too supportive for them ever to learn
to move efficiently on their feet. Although shoe companies probably mean well, science
has determined that highly supportive footwear actually hinders performance.
Additionally, there is actually more stress absorbed into the foot with shoes then without.
The quietest and smoothest athlete I ever saw on his feet was a guy who grew up one of
15 children in a poor rural area in Louisiana. He was so smooth and quiet on his feet he
could run full speed across nails and you wouldnt hear a thing. I asked him how he got
so light on his feet and he replied, Oh, when I was growing up I never had shoes so I just
learned to live without them. In fact I still dont like wearing them. Point taken.

** Some shoe companies have now caught on to this problem and are now offering functional footwear that come fairly
close to mimicking bare feet. The Nike Free is an example of such a shoe.

One other thing that can contribute to heavy feet is lack of mobility in the calf
region. Put your hands straight out in front of you with your feet shoulder width apart
and squat. If your heels come up off the ground your calves are tight. If thats the case I
recommend, at the very least, you stretch your calves morning and night for 20 seconds.

A sample Calf Stretch

Of course, the most obvious thing that can cause heavy feet is lack of simple
movement efficiency and coordination. In todays day and age kids and athletes tend to
spend too much time sitting around on the computer and playing Madden instead of being
outside moving around playing games. There are no longer any physical education
classes in most elementary schools. The result is a world chock full of heavy-footed
athletes who have never learned how to carry out basic movement patterns on their feet.
Activities like hopscotch and jump rope that were commonplace in every elementary
school 15 years ago are now almost instinct. If you think you need specific work on
getting lighter on your feet its really simple to fix. Work on getting more proficient up
on the balls of your feet!! Heres a sample drill:

Simply draw a line on the ground or take a piece of rope about 12 inches long.
Stand on one foot and bounce back and forth over the line for 10 seconds while trying to
keep your plant leg straight and your hips high. Then go front to back. Repeat with the
other leg. Do that drill every day and youll be well on your way towards getting more
efficient on your feet. From basic drills like those that establish proper coordination of
the feet while in a basic posture, you could move into hops done up on the balls of your
feet while maintaining a squat position, which develops the ability to coordinate your feet
with your hips. From there you could move towards lower altitude drop and depth jump
variations, which help develop the ability to deal with high forces. An example of an
altitude drop is dropping off a box while landing nice and quiet up on the balls of your

** Cueing an athlete to get in the habit of moving up on the balls of the feet can also be useful

Hip Running vs Knee Running

Yet another concept that ties in nicely with the above differentiation between toe
runners versus heel runners is that of running through the hips vs running through
the knees. Some people run through their hips and some people run through their knees.
The observations and differences between hip runners and knee runners are exactly the
same as toe runners and heel runners. Knee runners tend to run on their heels with a lot
of knee bend, lots of quadriceps activation, and lots of noise. Hip runners run through
their glutes and hamstrings, are much smoother and quieter, and appear as if theyre more
up on the balls of their feet.

The glutes are the strongest muscles in the body and an efficient athlete will
always primarily move through the hips. The thighs, calves, and feet simply serve to
transfer force from the hips down into the ground. Problems that can prevent a person
from utilizing the hips effectively can occur for the following reasons:

A: One is weak in the posterior chain and simply does not utilize the glutes effectively as
prime movers.

B: One is overly tight in the quadriceps and hip flexors.

C: One is weak in the hamstrings and thus the leg buckles behind the knee at impact and
does not transfer force into the ground effectively.

D: One lacks proper coordination with their feet. (AKA heavy footed)

One drill I like to use to teach people the concept of running through the hips, is
the above mentioned wall slide drill. Lean up against a wall, rise up on the balls of your
feet, and elevate your hips as high as you can. From this position, simply take strides
trying not to bend your knees much at impact, and look to feel the movement coming
from your glutes and hamstrings.

Other Assessments

A couple of other assessments youll want to check that can influence the above
mentioned problems are the mobility of the major hip flexors as well as the ability to
activate the glutes.** When the hip flexors are tight the glutes will be inhibited and
wont activate optimally, which means you wont be able to get as much power out of
them as you could. Many people have what some have termed glute amnesia, or
inability to properly activate and utilize the glutes. Since the glutes are the strongest
muscle group in the lower body we definitely want to optimize their function. Here is
how you can check for tight hip flexors: Lie on your back with both legs extended. Keep
a neutral spine and bring one knee all the way up to your chest while you keep the other
leg straight and the foot of the off leg planted on the floor. If the knee of the down leg
rotates out or if the foot of that leg comes off the ground, your hip flexors are tight.

Mobile Hip Flexors Hip Flexor Stretch

**The aforementioned rectus femoris also functions as a hip flexor.

Next, youll want to assess your ability to activate your glutes. Lie on your
stomach with your legs extended. Lift one leg up off the ground. Get someone to keep
an eye on your glutes, your lower back, and your leg as you do this drill. As soon as the
leg starts to move up the person watching should be able to observe the glute tightening
up. Faulty glute activation can be identified by either delayed or absent activation of the
glute, or excessive arching of the lower back.


Glute Activation Drill

One simple thing everyone can do to help improve their ability to get the most out
of their glutes is to get in the habit of contracting the glutes at heel strike when walking
around periodically throughout the day. Its a very simple habit that can go a long way.

What About The Balance Between The Hamstrings and

I talked about the balance between the posterior chain and the quadriceps, but
what about the balance between the muscles of the hamstrings and glutes? It is fairly
common to see athletes with glutes that are too strong for their hamstrings. The way you
can identify this characteristic is to watch the feet. An athlete whose glutes are
dominating the hamstrings will also run back on the heels, but the key characteristic is
their feet will often turn out when they run (and often when they walk).

Feet turned out

Athletes who fit this description will also almost ALWAYS have overly dominant
quadriceps as well. The solution for this problem would typically be to get away from
glute and quadriceps activity, mobilize those muscles, and strengthen the hamstrings.
That means exercises like glute ham raises with the feet in a neutral position would form
the bulk of strength work for this type of athlete. Supplemental drills like straight leg
sprints and bounds could also be utilized. Also pay attention to the flexibility of the
quadriceps, hip flexors, and glutes.


Glute Stretch Glute-Ham Raise**

**Although touted as a glute-ham-gastrocnemius movement, the glute-ham raise is primarily a hamstring movement.

Testing The Psoas

The next thing you'll want to test is the strength of the psoas muscle, which is one
of the major hip flexors. The psoas is the hip flexor muscle responsible for moving the
hip past 90 degrees, or bringing the knee up to the chest. If the psoas is weak you will
tend to substitute hip flexion with lumbar flexion. In other words, you'll tend to round
your back a lot when you move or when you run. You will also be more succeptible to
strains of the rectus femoris muscle when sprinting, which is fairly common and is also
known as a quad pull. Anyone who has suffered one of these knows how annoying they
can be. A strained quad once cost yours truly a starting spot in jr. high football.

Here is how you test the psoas: Stand with your back flat against a wall. Be
careful not to let your back round. Lift one knee up towards your chest and release.
Inability to keep the knee above 90 degrees for at least 10 seconds indicates a weak
psoas. Cramps, forward or backward leaning, and large shifts of the hip to one side or the
other also indicate a failed test. Fortunately, one can strengthen the psoas by engaging in
the actual testing protocol itself for a couple of sets a few days per week.

Psoas Strength Test

Evaluating Core Stability

In my opinion, the majority of isolated core training for various parts of the abs is
over-rated and often unnecessary due to the fact that the abdominals will tend to get as
strong as they need to simply by virtue of one training with basic whole body movements
such as squats, deadlifts, split squats and the like. Having said that, in order to engage in
those exercises safely as well as help ensure proper movement, one thing many people
could use more of is a baseline level of core stability. The bodys core includes the
trunk, pelvis, hips, abdominal muscles and small muscles along the spinal column. Core
stability is the interaction of strength and coordination of these muscles during activity.
Core stability adapts posture and muscle activity to ensure the spine is stabilized and
provides a firm base to support both powerful and very basic movement of the
extremities. If there is lack of stability not only is movement faulty but injury can result.

To evaluate core stability use a bridge, a side bridge, and a back extension.

Bridge Side Bridge Back Extension

You should be able to hold a normal bridge with a neutral spine for about 2
minutes. You should be able to hold a side bridge for 65% of the time you can hold a
back extension. If you fail the tests, simply engage in the actual tests a couple of days per
week for a couple of sets until you can complete as required.

The Execution Of The 40-yard Dash

As you well know, many sporting coaches and professionals use the 40-yard dash
to evaluate an athletes speed. However, most athletes do not understand how to start or
race the 40-yard dash. Team sport athletes rarely take the time to work on an effective
start and the proper way to run it.

The 40 is an extremely short test that doesnt allow much margin for error. A
simple mistake can cost you dearly in terms of speed. A fast time in the 40 can easily be
made or lost with a good or poor start. Thus, for an improved 40, you must look to
master your start.

The first phase to examine is the start stance.

1. Step up to the start line, aligning the toes of both feet on the edge of the line.

2. Have your stronger leg, usually the leg you jump off of, in front. For most
athletes, if you are right-handed, your left leg will be your stronger leg. Ill
describe the start assuming youre right handed.

3. To begin the setup, place your left foot a few inches directly behind your right
foot. The front of your left foot will be about 16 inches behind the start line.

4. Kneel down, placing your right knee directly next to the ball of your left foot.
Keep your right knee and your left foot roughly 6 to 8 inches apart.

5. Place your right hand on the start line, spreading your fingers wide and arching
your palm so as to keep it off the ground. Keep your left arm back.

6. Your weight should be balanced with the majority being supported by your legs
but some being supported by your left foot. The power at the start comes from
your legs, not your arm. Dont lean too far forward so that too much weight is on
your arm.

7. Your left leg should be bent at a 90-degree angle.

8. Your right leg should be bent at a 135-degree angle.

9. Your right hand should be on the ground and extended up on the fingertips with
the fingers far apart. Spreading your fingers will give you more stability. The left
arm should rest on the thigh of the right leg or in a position behind the body as if
in a running position. Assume a relaxed position with most of your bodyweight
on the legs and a small amount of your weight on the extended front arm.

10. Relax your body and visualize a successful start. Explode forward off your lead
leg and dont raise your head too quickly. Keep your head in line with your torso.

The most important thing you can do for your start is practice it. It takes time to
develop an effective start and its probably not something youre gonna learn overnight.
The most important thing you want to do is get in the habit of really extending and
exploding out of the gate so that it becomes 2
nature. Ideally, you wanna be covering a
lot of ground over your first 5-7 steps. Some people say the first 5-10 yards should be
covered in a given number of steps, such as three steps for the first 5 yards and 5 steps
over 10 yards. This is a good general recommendation for a typical high level athlete
like a D1 football player, however, when considering the differences in power, leg length
and structural characteristics between different people, this recommendation obviously
cant serve everyone and can actually lead to bad habits for those who try to follow it and
dont have the structure or the power to do it. Over-striding is a common problem during
the start and occurs when people try to cover too much ground. If you over-stride your
heels will be contacting the ground first and your torso will rise too soon. Your steps
should fall where they may based on your explosiveness and your structural
characteristics. Its best not to try and force anything unnaturally.

A couple of good drills that will help develop good starting mechanics are sprints
starting from a pushup position and forward dives onto a mat out of a sprinting stance.
These drills inherently help develop proper starting mechanics and dont require any
conscious input.

**Another good way to grasp correct mechanics for the start is to simply sprint up short hills from a standing position.

The Race

When you run the 40 you should accelerate steadily from the initial drive off the
line all the way through to the finish. Aim to relax as much as possible throughout the
entire race. It is important to accelerate smoothly from start to finish. Analysis of
sprinting has shown that you cant run at your very top speed for much more than one
second. When you watch the world's great 100-meter sprinters it always appears that they
hit another gear in the last 20 meters and blow everyone else away. Not so. What they
are actually doing is maintaining their top speed longer. Maintaining top speed is strictly
a function of relaxing and using smooth, fluid sprinting mechanics.

When running a 40 many athletes think they have to run at maximum speed over
the entire distance. They come out of the gate and immediately raise their head and look
straight up. They hit top speed 20 yards out, tighten up, and start to slow down 25 yards
in. The more efficient approach is to accelerate smoothly over the entire distance in order
to reach the top speed towards the end of the race. Your fastest times will tend be
recorded when you feel yourself accelerating through the finish line. Drive out from the
start position, keep your head in line with your body, and gradually and smoothly relax
and come up into full running position. You must learn to stay relaxed.

Starting From Blocks

The start I described above assumes you are starting without the aid of blocks. If
you compete in track and have the benefit of using blocks, the technique is a bit different.
Here are some general recommendations for a block start:

Foot placement and block settings: The standard placement is to have the front block
two foot lengths back from the line and the back foot three foot lengths back. The front
block should always be 1 notch lower than the back.

The upper body: When you drive out, the leading hand should be the same as the
forward leg. Hand width is determined by strength. A wider spread requires more
strength. A good place to start is to place the hands under the shoulders and work from
there. The shoulders should be slightly forward of hands on the take your mark
command. On the set command simply lift your butt straight up.

Technique: The eyes should look down so that the spine, neck, and back of head all
form a straight line. On the go command, the only cue you really need is to think of
clearing the lead hand out. If you pump the arms correctly, the legs will follow.
To clear the lead hand, just flick the hand up at eye level. Don't think power, just make
like a cat trying to catch a fly.
Troubleshooting Running Mechanics

The Start: Other than over-striding and raising the head up too soon, the most common
problem that occurs in the start is lack of hip extension (a.k.a. - Posterior chain
activation). When you lack hip extension power, you will cover little ground per stride
and it will look like your feet are on the ground at almost the same time. When an athlete
shows good hip extension they cover a lot of ground and their push off leg will form a
straight line from the ground to the head.

Lack of hip extension is typically caused by lack of power in the posterior chain (glutes
and hams). To cure a hip extension problem, anything that increases power in these
muscle groups can be utilized. This includes strength movements like deadlifts, reverse
hypers, and split squats, as well as explosive strength movements like sled pulling.
Supplementary plyometric exercises like single leg bounding and dives onto a mat out of
a sprint stance can be utilized. Specific movements like starts from a pushup position,
falling starts, and hill starts are also of value.

Arm Action. If you run with tense arms practice loose, swinging movements from a
standing position. Swing from the shoulder and keep the arms relaxed.

Body Lean. Your body should have a slight lean in the direction that you are running but
this lean comes from the ground and not from the waist. The lean is a result of displacing
the center of gravity in the direction you are running. Trying to lean too far forward by
bending at the waist interferes with the correct mechanics of sprinting.

Collapsing Heels: Running back on the heels often indicates lack of basic movement
efficiency and/or quadriceps dominance. This can often be cured by emphasizing basic
movements like single leg line hops as well as power movements such as depth drops off
a box.

Running With The Feet Turned Out: Running with the feet turned out indicates overly
dominant glutes and quadriceps and/or weak hamstrings.

Over-Striding. Dont reach and over-stride to try to increase stride-length. Keep your
hips high and keep your strides under you. Plant against the ground naturally and let the
foot land under your center of gravity. Any excessive placement of your foot in front of
your center of gravity will cause you to slow down.

Under-Striding. Trying to move you feet too fast will cause you to practically run fast
in place and you wont cover much ground. Someone who naturally under-strides will
often lack relative lower body power - particularly in the posterior chain. The solution to
this problem is the same solution that cures a faulty start - build hip extension power.

Relaxation. Dont try to power your way through a race. To run fast, you must stay

Setting up a routine

Alright, now I am going to talk a little bit about setting up a routine. First of all,
let's talk about volume.


How much speed training is enough per session or per week? How much is too
much? There is quite a bit of variance in the recommendations youll find in this area.
Ive seen sprint routines calling for enough sprint volume to kill an elephant and Ive also
seen routines calling for 5 minutes of sprints per week. I get a lot of questions like "Ok,
how many sprints do I need to run for session and how often?" It's really very simple. To
understand my volume recommendations it helps to understand how improvements in
speed occur. Gains in running speed can occur in 2 ways. These are:

1. Gains in inter-muscular coordination- This is otherwise known as simple
coordination and is highly relevant to improvements in movement efficiency. With
gains in inter-muscular coordination, the various muscle groups involved in the sprint
cycle become more proficient at carrying out the movement. Think of a youngster first
learning to walk or run. Initially, their arms and legs are flailing all over the place and
they have a hard time coordinating their movements. With practice they become more
proficient until one day they just get it. If the coordination is lacking, one will initially get
faster just from the improvements in coordination that occur as they practice running fast.
It should be noted that one can only gain so much from increased coordination. This is
particularly true of gross primal movement patterns like sprinting, jumping, punching and
the like, which really don't require a whole lot of technique in the first place. Once a
person develops a certain level of coordination in a movement they don't need to focus
near as much on it. Its kindve like riding a bike. Once you learn how to do it you dont
forget. I havent been on a bike in over 3 years but Im sure I could get on one tomorrow
and be just fine. Muscle memory is very real. As an example of how this relates to
running fast Ive known several people who have gotten totally away from any sprinting
activity for periods as long as 6 months or more at a time. When they do get back on the
track they'll initially feel a little discombobulated, yet within a couple of weeks their
technique and coordination will be right back where it was before. More on that in a

2. Gains in intramuscular coordination The 2
way gains in running speed can
improve is through gains in intra-muscular coordination. This is what I often refer to as
horsepower. With gains in intra-muscular coordination, each muscle group involved in
the movement becomes more proficient at generating force in the movement. Activities
like weight training work by boosting this aspect.

So, like I mentioned earlier, you can get faster by improving your ability to carry
out and coordinate a movement pattern, or you can get faster by putting more force
behind that movement pattern. It should be noted that gains in coordination generally
always occur prior to gains in horsepower. One first learns to carry out the movement
pattern effectively and then learns to put more force behind the same movement pattern.


As far as frequency goes, gains in .oovinvion .oovinvion .oovinvion .oovinvion respond better to increased
frequency. This is why when a baby is first learning to walk he or she doesnt get up and
try to do it just once every few days. No - he practices constantly. Running is the same
way and so is any other type of movement or skill. A sprinting frequency of 3-7 times
per week is optimal for gains in coordination . The more quality exposures you get when
learning a movement pattern, the faster you pick up the technique required to efficiently
carry out the movement pattern.

In contrast, gains in horsepower respond well to lower frequency with much more
intensity per session. In this respect, gains in intramuscular coordination for a sprinter
are much like gains in strength for an advanced lifter. Think about that. A very strong
powerlifter will often only train a lift once every 7 to 10 days. His technique for the lift is
well developed and he doesn't need endless repetition practicing the various lifts. Rather,
his time is spent stimulating and strengthening the muscles involved in the powerlift.
After a hardcore workout it'll often take his muscles and nervous system a week or more
to recover. Because he's already spent years perfecting his technique, he need not worry
about losing any technical prowess not hitting his lifts every other day. He can simply
focus on getting stronger in the various muscle groups overall and then apply that
increased strength to his powerlifts.

The same sort've thing can also be observed in sprinting. This is why you can
take an active group of young athletes off the track and throw them in the weight room
for 3 months and get them really strong. Providing they maintain their mobility and
leanness you can take them back out on the track and within 3 sessions most of them will
be setting PRs in the sprints. They didn't lose much technique from not sprinting because
its something theyve probably been doing since they were kids. However, they did
gain a lot of strength, which they were then able to transfer to the sprints. This is one
good reason why one need not spend endless hours all year around out on the track
sprinting, providing theyve reached a baseline level of proficiency in their ability to
move efficiently when they run. Sprinting is a simple gross movement pattern and,
providing one has at some point learned how to perform it with some proficiency, ** they
can often get away from it and focus on the strength qualities that will make them run fast
and then transfer that increased strength to the track. So, you use frequency to learn.
You use intensity to enhance whats learned.

** In this day and age, it isnt a given that young athletes have ever learned how to move and run correctly. Kids often do so much
sitting around they never learn how to run. Watch a group of teenagers engaged in a sports practice and its not uncommon to see
arms and legs flailing all over the place, heels stomping, and an assortment of other indicators that tell that a person has never
learned how to move with a whole lot of proficiency. This type of athlete would need to spend some time focusing more on movement

Maintaining Movement Proficiency vs Improving Movement

It takes a lot less volume to maintain a skill, movement pattern, or strength
quality then it does to improve a quality. In general, it only takes 1/3 the volume to
maintain a given movement pattern as it does to improve that quality. In other words,
you might become more coordinated by sprinting 3 times per week, but once you've
made those improvements, you can maintain the majority of them sprinting one time per
week. ** Activities like football and soccer practice or games, or anything else involving sprinting at a high intensity, can count
as training.

Rest Intervals

Regardless of whether you're training for increased coordination or increased
horsepower, gains will occur much more readily if each and every sprint or movement
you do is performed in a fresh state. This means you should take a full recovery between
sprints so that fatigue does not interfere with muscular recruitment.

Many people think the way to get faster and more explosive is to perform multiple
sprints with short rests to the point where theyre huffing and puffing and the muscles are
really burning. This type of training definitely hurts, requires a lot of mental toughness,
and may improve conditioning, or the number of sprints you can run in a fatigued state,
yet it wont do a thing for the speed of your fresh sprints. Think about it. If a powerlifter
wants to increase his maximum bench press how does he do it? Does he train with light
weights and very short rest intervals to the point where his muscles are burning and
cramping? Or does he lift really heavy weights for low reps with long rest intervals so
that he can be as fresh as possible for each lift?

The way to increase your speed is to train exactly like you would if you were
training for maximum strength. Sprint over fairly short distances (10 to 60 yards) and use
long rest intervals. Trying to train for maximum speed by running in a state of fatigue is
like trying to increase your bench press by training with foo-foo weights and short rest
intervals. It simply doesnt work! As a general recommendation, you should rest 1
minute for every 10 yards you sprint. So, if you sprint 10 yards, you'd rest 1 minute. If
you sprint 40 yards you'd rest 4 minutes. To avoid fatigue interfering with quality work,
this also means that a speed session should be stopped prior to, or as soon as, you start
to slow down on your sprint times in the workout. That generally means a speed workout
will not exceed 500 yards per session and will often be as short as 100 yards. Personally,
when I made my best gains in the 40 yard dash, each workout consisted of 3 to 5 all out
sprints and that's it. Nothing complicated about it!

More On Volume and Training Frequency

So, when training to improve running speed and not just training to improve
conditioning, you should terminate a sprint session prior to, or as soon as, your
performance starts do decline during a workout. The same goes for any other movement
skill or explosive movement you're trying to improve. Wanna improve your agility?
Your jumping? Your footwork? Your martial arts kicks? Your gymnastics ability? Then
treat all those just like you would sprints. Perform a lot of quality reps with good
recovery and stop a session as soon as fatigue begins to interfere with performance. It
will work for the acquistion and improvement of any movement or skill youre trying to
improve. That's the simplest way to monitor volume you'll ever hear and it's also highly
effective. The reason its so effective is because these gains are mostly all neurological
in nature and making neural improvements requires fresh exposures.

Now, as mentioned above, when training for increased coordination, movement
proficiency, and skill, you can and should train more often. A frequency of 3-5 days per
week or even every day works very well for coordination and movement acquisition for
something like a sprint. The more fresh exposures you give yourself to a given skill or
movement, the more proficient you're gonna get at carrying out that movement. As long
as fatigue is not accumulating on a day-to-day basis and as long as your performance is
not deteriorating on a day-to-day basis, you can train as often as possible.

Frequency When Training For Horsepower

When I refer to horsepower I'm referring to things like weight training and any
plyometric training other than very basic low intensity movement efficiency drills like
jump rope. In these higher intensity tasks, you're trying to improve the amount of
oomph that you put behind your movements. In other words, squats and depth jumps
dont improve the coordination of your sprint stride, they improve the amount of force
you put behind each stride. Prescribing frequency when training for horsepower is a
little more difficult. Why is this? Well, the main reason is because most of the things
associated with boosting horsepower tend to be highly intense activities that tend to
causes a significant amount of whole body central nervous system fatigue or muscular
micro-trauma. Either of these will require recovery time. How do you tell if something is
causing whole body fatigue and/or micro-trauma? Very simple: If you perform a task
today and can't come back the very next day and repeat the task at the same level, your
body is not recovered.

I went in the gym yesterday and did a fairly heavy squat session. I could not come
back and repeat that same session tomorrow with the same weights. In fact, I'd probably
have to wait 4-5 days before I could repeat that same squat session. If I were to do some
depth jumps tomorrow those depth jumps would induce enough fatigue that I probably
wouldn't be able to come back the next day and jump as well either. I wouldn't have to
rest 4-5 days like I would with the squats, but I probably would have to rest 48 hours or
so. The more micro-trauma (muscular damage) that you induce in any given workout the
longer it's going to take to recover. This is why weight training tends to require the most
recovery time. However, nervous system fatigue can be induced even without micro-
trauma. The depth jumps don't induce much micro-trauma yet still drain the system
enough that they require some recovery time.

One other very important point: Things like basic sprinting and jumping, when
performed at a high level, can also require significant recovery time. An elite level
sprinter may only be able to sprint maximally 2-3 days per week. If he tried to sprint at
full speed every day hed most likely find his times from one day to the next would get
slower and slower as he builds up fatigue. But allow him a day of rest between
maximum sprints and hes fine. However, a grade schooler can sprint every day with no
day to day deterioration in performance. Why is this? Since the elite sprinter is much
more advanced shouldn't he be able to sprint more often? You would think so. So what's
going on? Well, the body can double, triple, or quadruple the capacity to generate stress
(increase performance), yet the capacity to recover from that stress does not improve
nearly as much from baseline. The elite level sprinter is putting out a TON of force when
he sprints and, in comparison to the lower level athlete, puts a lot more stress on his body
and nervous system. Have you ever wondered why pro athletes or sprinters tear and
strain hamstrings left and right yet you never see a single person in a class full of
kindergardners have any such problems? They're simply not able to create enough stress
to challenge their bodies. Its like the difference between a thoroughbred and a camel or
a funny car and a Honda civic. The thoroughbred and funny car are so strong and
powerful theyll blow out if you try to run them full bore all the time. The camel and
Honda Civic dont operate such a high intensity and thus can be ridden further and more

You see the same thing in lifting. A very strong powerlifter with an 800-pound
deadlift might only be ABLE to deadlift once every 7 to 10 days without any
performance deterioration yet when he was a beginning lifter only deadlifting 200 he
could probably lift maximal weights every other day. The bigger weights he's lifting
simply require more recovery time because over time hes turned himself into more of a
thoroughbred. An explosive athlete is the same way.

The point to take home is this: If you perform a task today and can't come back
the very next day and repeat the exact same task, you need some recovery time. Activities
such as heavy weight training may require 2-7 days recovery while activities such as
intense plyometric and speed will typically require 48 hours recovery. Its generally best
to allow 48-hours rest between any highly intense activities for a given muscle group.
So, if I did a heavy squat session today I wouldnt wanna come back tomorrow and
perform depth jumps or sprints. Id wanna give my legs and my nervous system at least
48 hours rest. For that reason, for those athletes who have advanced past the
coordination stage, its often best to put any activities that require significant recovery
time all on the same training day. So, instead of performing weight training one day,
high intensity plyometrics the next day, and sprinting the next day, youd do them all on
the same day with 48 hours rest in between workouts. On the days in between your
higher intensity workouts you could either rest or engage in lower intensity activities.

Activities that could generally be considered High-Intensity activities would be the

1. Strength work (anything above 80% of 1rm for lower body and "whole
body"movements such as deadlifts, cleans etc.)
2. Maximum effort lower body bodybuilding work (8-12 reps to failure)
3. Maximum effort speed work with full recovery between reps
4. Maximum effort plyometric work (depth jumps)
5. Maximum effort agility and deceleration work will full recovery between reps
6. Maximum effort conditioning work (ie. Timed max effort intervals)
7. Martial arts or boxing sparring and heavy bag
9. Any activity performed with heightened and competitive emotional intensity
10. Any activity performed under the influence of artificial stimulants
(ephedrine, various energizing supplements)
11. For advanced athletes only - any activity involving PR type performances

Activities that could generally be considered Low-Intensity activities would be the

1. Aerobic work
2. Sub-maximal conditioning work
3. Dynamic warm-ups and form running drills
4. Sub-maximal bodybuilding or upper body isolation bodybuilding work
5. Sub-maximal speed work (runs less than 80% top speed)
6. Easy plyometric work (basic uni-lateral and bi-lateral hops etc.)
7. Footwork drills (agility ladders and dot drills)
8. Jump rope
9. Martial arts kata, mitt work, or shadowboxing

These activities that don't induce much if any fatigue and can be repeated on a daily basis
if desired.

A sample weekly split encompassing these principles might look something like this:

Mon: Lower body weight training, sprints, high intensity plyometrics

Tues: Upper body weight training, low intensity movement work (jump rope, agility
ladders, basic movement efficiency drills)

Wed: off

Thurs: Lower body weight training, sprints, high-intensity plyometrics

Fri: Low intensity movement work

Sat: Upper Body weight training, sprints, high intensity plyometrics

With that set-up youre allowing your lower body 48-hours rest between high-intensity
bouts of activity.


What about distances? This can vary depending upon your unique needs but
generally speaking an athlete should spend the majority of their time sprinting distances
that will actually enhance their speed and acceleration abilities. For most athletes I
consider distances of 0 to 30 yards acceleration, 30 to 50 yards max speed, and distances
over 50 yards speed endurance. That means the large majority of individual reps should
be made up of distances from 10 to 50 yards. If youre a team sport athlete theres little
reason to sprint further than 40 yards unless youre sprinting as a form of conditioning
work. Additionally, for optimum gains, I always recommend a short to long approach to
speed development. In other words, develop your speed and acceleration first over
shorter distances and then extend that speed out over longer distances. If you were
interested in improving your 40-yard dash youd ideally start off with the majority of
your focus spent improving your 10 and 20 yard sprints and work your way out towards
40 yards.

Making Things Easy

I will give some highly detailed examples of sprint workouts later, but a speed
workout need not require a masters degree in advanced calculus to be effective. Simpler
is often better. A sprint workout can be something as simple as going out to the track or
field twice per week and, after an easy warm-up, running repeat 30 yard sprints one day
and repeat flying 20 yard sprints a few days later. Rest fully between each repetition,
time each repetition, and stop the workout as soon as the times start to decline. It's as
simple as that.

A sample template that has been used with good success for off-season youth speed and
athletic development programs might look something like this:

Frequency: Alternate Between Workout A & Workout B on an every other day basis 3
times per week.

Workout A:

Dynamic mobility: (see mobility section)

Speed drills: high knees, skips, straight leg sprints etc.

Short linear sprints or sled sprints: 10's, 20's, and 30's

Plyometric work: hops, jumps, box jumps, knees to chest tuck jumps, etc.

Speed lift: Jump squat variation, snatch, or clean

Lower body lift: Squat, deadlift, Front squat, split squat, lunge

Upper Body push: Bench press, push press, incline press

Upper body pull: pullup, row

Core movement: plank, medicine ball circuit, woodchop, side bend, swiss ball crunch,

Conditioning: intervals, shuttle runs

Workout B:

Dynamic mobility: See mobility section

Speed drills: High knees, skips, straight leg sprints, etc.

Lateral movement work: Shuffle, crossover, various agility drills

Lateral plyometric work: Various hops and jumps moving side to side

Speed Lift: Jump squat variation, snatch, or clean

Lower body lift: Squat, Deadlift, front squat, split squat, lunge

Upper body push: Bench press, push press, incline press

Upper body pull: Pullup, row

Core: Plank, medicine ball circuit, woodchop, side bend, swiss ball crunch, etc.

Conditioning: intervals or shuttle runs

Static Stretching: Stretches for quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, calves, lats,

Simply pick one exercise from each category and have at it. All in all you're looking at
about 2 hours of total work including warm-ups, stretching, and conditioning. In an
optimal environment, you'd be able to split things up a bit more, yet with large groups
this can work very effectively.

A sample daily workout might look like this:

1. Dynamic mobility (see mobility section)
2. High knees, skips, straight leg sprints - 25 yards x 3
3. Sled sprints- (using light load) - 3-4 x 25 yards
4. Sled marching- (using bodyweight)- 2-3 x 25 yards
5. Single leg linear hops onto a low box- 2-3 x 10-15 seconds per set
6. Hang Snatch- 4 x 3
7. Squat- 3 x 5
8. Incline press- 4 x 5
9. Pullup- 2 x max reps per set
10. Hi to low cable woodchop - 2 x 12-15
11. 100-yard shuttle runs at 70% max effort- 8 sets with 45 seconds rest between each.

Keep in mind this type of template would be ideal for youth who could benefit more from
boosting the inter-muscular coordination aspects of their performance. They might need
quite a bit of basic coordination and movement efficiency work, therefore the total
volume of speed, lateral movement, and plyometric work would be rather high.

Year Around Training?

When discussing training, assuming youre a team sport athlete, the volume and
frequency of specific sprint work will vary depending upon the time of year. In the pre-
season and during the season itself, there is often no need or time for specific sprint work
as simply participating in practices and the sport itself will give plenty of exposure to
speed and acceleration work. As a general recommendation, during the off-season,
unless an athlete is significantly deficient in them, both speed work and lateral movement
work (agility), sessions should be performed only once or twice per week. Here is an
example of what a yearly plan might look like for a football player.

January Mid-May (focus: Strength and muscle mass accumulation)

Mon: Lower body lifting
Tues: Upper body lifting
Thurs: Low volume speed and movement work (speed, agility), lower body lifting
Fri: Upper body lifting

Late May Late June (focus: Continue strength and power development begin

Mon: Speed training, Upper body lifting
Wed: Speed training, lower body lifting
Fri: Upper body lifting
Sat: Conditioning (using football agility drills with short rest intervals)

July Mid-August (focus: Improve conditioning Maintain strength, speed, and

Mon: Upper body lifting, anaerobic conditioning using sprint intervals
Tues: Lower body lifting
Wed: Anaerobic conditioning using football agility drills
Thurs: Upper Body lifting
Friday: Anaerobic conditioning

Mid-August November (focus: maintain strength)

Wed: Full body lifting
Sun: Full body lifting

Mobility Training

Now it's time to talk a little more about specific mobility training. Sporting
movements are obviously dynamic, or performed with movement. If you dont have the
mobility necessary to carry out some of these movements you risk faulty movement
efficiency and perhaps even strained and/or torn muscles. Ever seen what happens when
you take a strong so called muscle-bound bodybuilder type and throw him out in a flag
football game? Strained hip flexors and a host of other injuries are the norm. What most
people call a muscle-bound state isnt caused from excessive muscle, its caused by lack
of mobility. I like to think of mobility training as lubrication for the moving parts of an
athlete - similar to the oil in the motor of a car or the grease that lubricates various
working parts. If you run a car without oil or run a wheel without grease you get all sorts
of clanking, squeaking, and other annoying problems. It's the same way for an athlete
without mobility. Lack of mobility causes movement to be restricted and you get all sorts
of squeaks, clanks and other assorted problems, often involving injury. Mobility training
is like grease or oil that helps parts run smoother.

There are 2 types of stretching that I recommend. Dynamic and static. In a
dynamic stretch, you're simply carrying out some of the movements that occur in sport
over a greater range of motion. You're integrating mobility into the actual movements
that occur when you move. To maintain and/or gain the mobility necessary to move and
run correctly, I recommend each workout can be preceeded by a dynamic warm-up that
includes exercises for the hip flexors, calves, glutes, hams, quadriceps, and lower back.
The purpose of the warm-up is to make gains in active range of motion, provide a proper
neural stimulus, and obviously get your muscles warmed up and ready to go for the more
intense work to come. Go through each movement for 1-2 sets of 8-10 reps per move.
There are countless dynamic mobility exercises but what follows are some that I prefer:


Deep twisting lunge

Calf stretch

Cross under lunge


Pullback butt-kick walking forward

Straight leg kick moving forward (keep leg straight)

Sumo squat

Walk forward elbow to foot

Hurdle duck under (use real or imaginary hurdle)

What About Static Stretching?

Static stretching is the traditional type of stretching where you take a muscle into
a stretched position and hold the stretch without movement. Static stretching is useful to
help relax tight muscles and may help to reform tight tissue, yet does little to integrate the
acquired range of motion into the desired movements, which is why I recommend both
static and dynamic stretching. I generally recommend you perform static stretching if
you need to further address certain mobility problems you've identified. These include
the aforementioned tight hip flexors, tight quadriceps/rectus femoris, tight glutes, or tight
calves. Those are gonna be the common problems that might need some extra mobility
work. One thing you generally dont want to do is static stretch prior to your workout or
it might interfere with your strength by relaxing muscles that you dont want relaxed. In
my opinion, the best time to engage in static stretching is right after your workout, first
thing in the morning, and right after you get out of a warm shower. If you have the time
or inclination, you can also perform static stretching periodically throughout the day. It
need not be overly complicated. Simply stretch the muscle to a point where you feel a
stretch and hold the stretch for 2 sets of 20 seconds.

Sprinting Form Drills

Form running drills help to establish correct movement patterns and also serve as
good general warm-ups. One neednt participate in endless amounts of drills, yet
establishing mistake free movement patterns may help to eliminate wasted energy that
does not contribute to forward movement.

High knees. Run while lifting your knees up to your hip joints and then drive them down
in a fast and constant pace.

Butt-kicks. While moving forward in a slow jog, kick your heels up to your buttocks.
Your upper leg should not move much. Try to place emphasis on allowing your heel to
come up to your butt.

Skips. Skip with your lead knee coming up and down with a rhythmic cadence. The
emphasis is on decreasing your ground contact time by hitting the ground with the ball of
the foot and getting off as quickly as possible. In turn, the effort on the ground should
bounce your leg up into the high knee position.

Strides. A stride is just an easy run at a speed in between a jog and a sprint. They are
used as a warm-up drill and the idea is to focus on running form while preparing the body
for the more intense work to come in the workout.

Buildups. Start from a standing start into a slow run, concentrating on good running
form. Gradually build up speed until you at nearly full speed at 40 yards. Once full
speed is achieved, gradually slow down over the final 20 yards.

Speed and Acceleration Drills

Starts. In the following programs I give, youll see a variety of starts: Starts from a
push-up position, falling starts, starts from a 2-point start, and starts from a 3-point start.
Most are self-explanatory. A 2-point start is done from a standard wide receiver stance (2
limbs on the ground). A 3-point start is done with one hand on the ground. A start from a
pushup position is done with you starting from a push-up position. A falling start is done
out of a 2-pt. stance with you falling forward. Simply let yourself fall forward. As you
lose your balance you accelerate out. The idea is to develop explosive running starts and
work on your initial acceleration coming out of the hole from a variety of positions.

Flying 10s 20s and 30s. Set up a course with the 30-yard point marked. Start off slow
and gradually pick up speed over 30 yards. By the time you reach the 30-yard mark you
should be running at nearly full speed (flying). Continue this full speed sprinting for
10,20, or 30 more yards. Do not accelerate too fast or too slow; its like a buildup except
you should be running full speed at 30 yards.

Accelerations. From a jog gradually stride in smoothly and approach a predetermined
acceleration point 10-20 yards away. Once you hit the predetermined spot, accelerate as
fast as possible over the required distance.

Plyometric Training

The main purpose of plyometric drills is to enhance the ability to better express
strength, develop reactive rebound type strength**, and improve your capacity to use
your tendons as movement generators. As described earlier, the foundation for great
plyometric efficiency is a base of strength, so that the muscles can lock up and absorb
force. Plyometric drills enhance the absorption, stabilization, and release of force that
occurs with movement. They enable you to express your strength in a high-velocity
specific manner. Sprinting itself is very plyometric in nature. For this reason, anyone
doing more than a modicum of sprinting doesnt typically need to utilize a ton of
plyometric drills.

**Plyometric strength is also termed elastic strength, reactive strength, reversal strength, and rebound strength. Dont let the
terminology confuse you! They all mean the same thing.

When engaging in a bout of plyometric training, its not necessary to use a ton of
various plyo drills in order to have an effective workout. People tend to overcomplicate
plyometric work to the point where many think they need to have a masters degree in
Russian training secrets to undestand it! I've probably been guilty of overcomplicating
the subject myself, but the reality is plyometric work is really quite simple. All lower
body plyometric drills do basically the same thing. They all involve some type of
hopping, bouncing, jumping, or running variation. There is no real magic in any
exercise. The only magic is in the intensity of exercise. There are low intensity
movements like the single legged line hops I mentioned earlier, which work best to train
movement efficiency and basic coordination on the feet. There are very high intensity
movements like depth jumps, which build max power. If possible you should try to
choose exercises that most closely hone in on your specific needs and you should always
choose exercises that correspond to your level of development.

For example, someone with good strength yet poor power in his posterior chain,
might utilize an exercise of 3 consecutive single leg hops for max distance. Someone
with bad feet and collapsing heels might utilize depth drops off a box equivalent to the
height of his best vertical jump, landing up on the balls of his feet. Someone with lack of
power in his hips might utilize low squat hops or alternating lunge jumps.

Alternating Lunge Jumps

Remember to choose exercises based on your developmental level. A depth jump
would be too intense for a beginner or someone who lacks strength. Youngsters should
spend the majority of time working with basic low intensity hops, skips, and jumps until
they have a modicum of strength in place.

** The general recommendation is that an athlete should be capable of a 1.5 x BW squat before participating in high intensity

If in doubt, realize that specific sporting movements can also serve as excellent
plyometric exercises. In other words, if you wanted to jump higher and determined you
needed to focus on expressing your strength better, a simple running jump for maximum
height is an excellent plyometric movement itself and its also 100% specific to the goal
of jumping higher. Sprinting itself is also a specific plyometric exercise. Youre not
gonna lose out on anything by not performing a ton of plyometric drills yet they can
provide some variety and sometimes they can help you hone in on a specific weakness.
A sample workout might have 1 to 3 exercises. The movements and the workouts
themselves don't need to be complicated. Keep each set less than 10 seconds in duration
and always stop any plyometric workout following the same guidelines as you would for
volume of sprint work. Stop the workout before or as soon as your performance in the
movements begins to decline. Get creative with the exercises. Here are some ideas.

Low Intensity Plyo Exercises

Draw a line on the ground and jump side to side over it with 2 legs - 1 leg

Do the above front to back

Draw 4 imaginary stars on the ground forming a box with each star separated by 12-18
inches. Hop around the box on one leg

Get in a squat position up on the balls of your feet and bounce in place

Put a low box in front of you - jump up on it and step off. Do the same with one leg.
From the side..from the other side.

Medium Intensity Plyo Exercises

Get underneath a basketball goal and rhythmically jump up and try to touch as high as
you can

Get in a lunge position and jump up as high as possible landing in the same position as
you started. Switch legs in midair

Jump side to side over a cone, bench, or other knee-high object

Jump high and bring your knees to your chest

Put a medium to high box (18 to 40 inches) in front of you and jump up on it

Put a low box (6-12 inches high) and bounce rhythmically up and down off and on it with
one leg...repeat from the side, repeat from the other side

Skip for max distance

Skip for max height

Stand on a box about 18 to 24 inches high, step off the box, and land softly up on the
balls of your feet in a motionless position (depth drops)

Perform a standing broad jump

High Intensity Plyo Exercises

Hop forward on one leg

Hop sideways on one leg

Sprint with exaggerated strides trying to get up as high as possible and cover as much
ground as possible with each stride (bounding)

Stand on a box, step off, hit the ground, and jump as high as possible...repeat to the left,
to the right (depth jump)

Plyometrics really dont need to be complicated. That's all there is to it!!

The Entire Athletic Development Process

Now, what I'd like to do is go through a simple man's approach to the entire process
of building an efficient and speedy athlete. It should be obvious by now that a cookie
cutter approach isnt optimal, yet youre probably wondering how to determine where to
focus your efforts and what type of training will be best for you. Now Im gonna try to
answer those questions. Hopefully, this will give you an idea on my thought process
when it comes to evaluating an athlete. This should read sort of like a checklist:

1. Are you trying to run on flat tires? The first thing youll want to do is make sure
you've established proper movement efficiency, coordination, and movement
patterns. Take a look at your ability to move efficiently at a low intensity. Before
you can move well at a high intensity (jumping, cutting, sprinting, changing
direction, etc.), you have to be able to move properly at a low intensity (bouncing
and moving around with quick and light feet). Think of a game like hopscotch or
jump rope or the myriad of mostly useless type drills that a football player would
go through in training camp such as agility ladders, cone drills, dot drills and
other related drills. How efficiently can you move? Are you somewhat light on
your feet or are you heavy footed and find drills like these a real challenge for
you? Answer honestly. You shouldn't really have to think too hard about this.
One easy little test you can use to test basic movement efficiency is draw a line or
place a piece of tape on the ground. Stand on both legs and hop forward and back
over the line for 10 seconds. Repeat with one leg. You oughta be able to get
around 60 total hops with both legs and 30-40 on one leg within those 10 seconds.
If you find it difficult to count fast enough just count the forward hops. Aim for
30 on both legs and 15-20 on one.

You don't need to be like Allen Iverson or Ladanian Tomlinson but ask yourself
these questions:

A: Do people call you quick and agile or slow and heavy-footed?

B: Can you carry out the movements in your sport properly or are coaches
constantly telling you that you need to work on your footwork?

C: Do you sound like an elephant when you run or are you as smooth and quiet as
a butterfly?

Remember, you dont have to be superb in this department, you just need to make
sure you have a little air in your tires. A race car with flat tires ain't going
nowhere in a hurry and neither are you! If you aren't satisfied with your score
here the next step is to figure out what the problem is. If you score less than
satisfactory here, take a look at 1a through 1d to determine what problems you
might need to correct. If you pass, go on to number two.

1a.You're too fat!? What's your body-fat like? Remember, if you have to haul
around a 50 pound tub of lard its gonna slow you down! If youre overweight
look at your diet and activity levels. Cut down on sugars and increase the
consumption of things you can actually shoot or grow. If youre overweight, you
also probably lack basic fitness, or GPP. The solution is to get up off your butt
and get involved in more activity. Have fun and PLAY your way into shape.

1b. You lack coordination or you're just heavy footed? This probably means
you just never learned to move efficiently as a youngster and you need to spend
time doing that. This means you should probably spend quite a bit of time
developing the capacity to move lighter on your feet. Break out the jump rope,
agility ladder, SAQ (speed, agility and quickness) type drills, and other basic
lower intensity plyometric and agility type drills. You have a couple of options.
You can either PLAY and get involved in as many activities as you can, or you
can make an effort to spend at least 20-minutes 3 days per week working on
various drills designed to get you more coordinated on your feet - or you can do

1c. You lack mobility? Go through the mobility tests I described earlier. Can
you perform a squat without your heels rising up? Can you bring your heel up to
your butt without much effort? Can you lie on your back and bring one knee to
your chest without tearing a hip flexor? Are you supple and mobile or are you
tighter than a drum? If you have mobility problems the best way to fix them is to
spend 20 seconds twice a day with specific static stretches and perform plenty of
dynamic stretches prior to your workout. If your calves are tight simply stretch
your calves. If your hip flexors are tight stretch your hip flexors. If your quads
are tight stretch your quads.

2. Assuming you've met all the basic requirements for #1, now it's time to assess
your relative strength. Are you strong enough to be an explosive athlete? A
modicum of strength is necessary. What are your lifting numbers like? Do you
squat and deadlift at least 1.5 to 2 x your bodyweight? If yes you can go on to
number 3. If not you need to get stronger overall. That shouldn't be too difficult.
Take a look at the first workout in the next session and take a look at some of the
templates in appendix B.

3. Assuming you've met all the basic requirements for #1 and #2, now it's time to
dig a little deeper to see how to continue building your athleticism. Once you've
reached this level, improving your performance is a matter of either A, putting a
bigger engine in your car (getting stronger), or B, modifying your engine to better
express its horsepower (working on explosiveness to better express your

A: Putting a bigger engine in your car

Putting a bigger engine in your car just means that you'd continue to build your
strength and size so that you have more oomph behind your movements. You can
only modify the engine in a race-car so much. Eventually, the only way youre
gonna make the car any faster is to put a bigger engine in the SOB. Its the same
with athletes. You can work on various explosive drills, run sprints every day,
work on mobility, nutrition, and a host of other things, but eventually you reach a
point where youre not gonna get any faster or more explosive until you put a
bigger engine underneath your hood. You do that by getting bigger and stronger
overall. To drive this point home think of this: Why can't a 14 year elite athlete
run as fast as a 25 year old elite athlete no matter how well they move or how
much power training they do? Why cant an average girl throw as far as an
average guy, hit as hard as a guy, run as fast as a guy, or jump as high a guy?
Because they're not as big and strong!! Ive actually worked with a lot of athletes
in this category who enhanced their speed and vertical jumps by a significant
amount with doing any specific speed, jump, or movement training
WHATSOEVER; they just got stronger overall!


B: Modifying the engine in your car so that you get more horsepower out of
your existing motor

Modifying the motor in your car just means that you'd train yourself to get more
oomph out of the muscle and strength you already have. You do this by working
on better expressing your strength, or building up your explosiveness, so that you
apply more force in less time, which you'd do by engaging in more explosive,
plyometric, and speed oriented work.

Ok. Now, the way we determine whether you need a bigger engine or a modified
engine is to take a close look at your performance in various tasks. We have to
determine whether youre stronger then you are fast, or whether youre faster
then you are strong. Look at the following evaluations:

A: First off, take a look at your lifting numbers in relationship to athletic
measures such as vertical jump, 40-yard dash, and agility drills. Are you one of
those guys who is stronger than an ox in the weight room - a guy who squats and
bench presses a ton yet whose speed and vertical jumping ability pales in
comparison? Or are you one of those guys who is weaker than a kitten yet fairly
explosive and fast? Are you one of those people who gets off the line like a raging
bull the first 10 yards of a sprint but is slower than molasses after 20 yards yards?
If so, you're stronger then you are fast. Or are you one of those guys whose initial
acceleration is slow but your top speed is impressive? If so, you're faster then you
are strong.

If you perform the Olympic lifts and if you have really good technique with them,
you can look at the ratio between the various lifts to get an idea where you stand
in this department. An athlete that is faster than strong will tend to have a clean
that is more than 70% of his back squat and a snatch that is more than 65% of his
front squat.

When making these observations and determinations there really arent any hard
and fast guidelines here and there's not really a chart you can look at to see where
you stack up. You have to use some common sense.

If you're the guy who is stronger then you are fast, you probably should focus on
improving your explosiveness, which you'd do by following a routine such as the
2nd workout in the next section. If you're the type of guy who is faster then you
are strong, you could benefit from driving up your strength.

What about everyone else? What if you're not sure where you fit in? Then youll
have to take a closer look. One of the things I do is take a close look at several
various jumping related tests. Here are the tests:

1. First, record your normal standing vertical jump. Next, stand on a box 12-18
inches high and execute a depth jump for maximum height. Simply step off the
box, hit the ground, and rebound up as high as possible. Record the results of
those 2 tests. If your jump from the ground is higher than your bounce jump, you
most likely need more work on explosiveness. If your bounce jump is higher than
your jump from the ground, you could probably benefit from more strength and
raw horsepower.

2. Next, compare your best bilateral (2-legged) running vertical jump and
compare it to your best unilateral (single leg) running jump. Simply take a
running start and jump as high as you can. Record the results of those 2 tests. If
your bilateral jump is significantly (20% +) higher then your unilateral jump, you
probably could benefit from focusing more on explosiveness. (You could also
probably benefit from focusing more on hamstring and glute strength). If your
uni-lateral jump is higher then your bilateral jump, you could probably benefit
from more basic strength and hypertrophy work.

Those observations will tell you a lot, but you can even take things a step further:

4. How does your game speed rank in relationship to your linear speed?***
***This will be covered in detail in a later chapter

Are you as agile as you are fast? One thing you can do to help make this
evaluation is compare your straight ahead linear speed to a test of speed that
requires change of direction. Record your best 40-yard dash and compare it to
your best 20-yard shuttle. If you don't know how to do a 20-yard shuttle here's
how. Take 3 cones and place them 5 yards apart so that they look like this

----10 yards

Start at B and face the direction of B with one hand on the ground. Whenever
youre ready, start by running to A and touching the line, then run to C and touch
the line, then run back the other direction through B. Stop the clock as soon as
you run through B the 2

Next, compare the results of that 20-yard shuttle to your best 40-yard dash. The
20-yard shuttle should be at least .4 seconds faster than the 40. If its not, you
could probably stand to work a bit more on your lateral movement and agility.

5. Next, you basically take all that material and mull it over and determine the
best course of action for yourself as an athlete, or for your athletes if youre a
coach. It's probably not something you'll ever feel that you've completely
mastered. It's an ongoing process and the things you learn as an athlete or as a
coach are always improving as you learn more and find better ways of assessing
things, but this will get the job done.

Additionally, make sure you use some common sense when reading in to the
testing. If you lack explosiveness in relationship to your strength, is it really
because of your motor abilities or is their some other problem? In other words,
could it be that you carry too much excess weight? Do you play a sport like
basketball or track and have to work under a coach that believes that waking up at
5 am and hitting the pavement for 5 miles every day (and burning up your fast
twitch muscle), is the way to get you in shape? Are you over-trained in general?
Or do you have a build that is good for strength but not really conducive to
displaying great speed (very thick joints with ultra short legs) Any of those things
can kind've masks the results of those evaluations. There's not always a clear-cut
answer but most of the time there is.

6. Assuming you've met the requirements for #1, #2, and #3, meaning that you've
established proper movement efficiency, you're not fat, you're mobile, you're
strong enough, and you still can't determine exactly what type of training you
should do, I'd recommend you start off focusing on more of an explosive oriented
routine to start. Keep in mind, when training to better display your strength
(display explosiveness), a general reduction in volume is necessary as these gains
occur most readily when the body is in a fairly well rested state. In general it only
takes about 60% of the volume to generate explosive gains as it does to generate
gains in strength. In fact, a lot of times just reducing volume overall will
generate gains in speed and explosiveness as many people are over-reached
or slightly over-trained and dont even know it. If someone is not making
gains Ive often found it's because theyre training with too much junk
volume and throwing too many conflicting signals at the body. By simply
optimizing their recovery, they allow a lot of fatigue to dissipate and start to


A sample of an off-season explosive oriented workout might look something like this.
The goal here is to maintain strength while focusing on better displaying that strength.
This workout would be for someone who is stronger than they are fast.


Dynamic warm-up

**Depth Drops- 6 x 3 (stand on a box equivalent to your best vertical jump, drop off the
box, and freeze up on the balls of your feet at impact)

20-yard sprint- repeat until times begin to decline


Dynamic warm-up

40-yard sprints - repeat until time declines

Jump squat- 6 x 5 at 20-30% of max squat

Deadlift - 3 x 3 @ 80-85% ***

Friday or Saturday
Dynamic warmup

Depth jumps- 6-8 x 3

Glute Ham raise- 4 x 6-8

Follow that format for 4 weeks and eliminate the Wednesday workout the last week.

Note: An explosive oriented phase is also a great time to implement horizontal loading
(towing), as I will talk about later.

** Depth drops can be performed a variety of ways. Moving forward off the box, moving sideways off the box, landing in a lunge off
the box, single-legged etc.

** Strength can be maintained with 1/3 the volume it took to build that strength, providing the intensity (load) is maintained. For
someone looking to maintain strength, I would typically prescribe 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps with an 85 to 90% load once per week.

A sample of an off-season strength oriented workout might look like this. The goal here
is to push up strength, and perhaps even hypertrophy, while maintaining the ability to
display that strength:


Short Sprints (10s, 20s or 40s) - ~4-6 reps each. Stop prior to any noticeable drop-off
in performance.

Squat- 5 x 5 @85% (try to increase the weight or reps each week- work up to a set of 5
using several warm-up sets and then maintain the same weight for all 5 sets. You might
only get 2 or 3 reps on your last 2 sets. When you get all 5 sets of 5, increase the load the
next workout - make sure you're doing a true deep back squat)

Leg curl, glute ham, or romanian deadlift - 4 x 6-8

Thursday or Friday

Jump Squat with pause 4 x 3 @ 30% of max squat, (perform these by lowering into a full
squat position, pausing for 3-5 seconds, and exploding up into a jump)

Deadlift- 4 x 3 @85-90% (try to increase the weight or reps each week- work up to a
heavy set of 3 using several warm-up sets and then maintain the same weight for all the
remaining sets. You might only get 1 or 2 reps on your last 2 sets.
When you get all 4 sets of 3 reps increase the load the following workout)

Bulgarian split squat or lunge- 2 x 6-8 per leg

Detailed Programs For 40-yard Dash

In this segment Im going to write out a couple of more detailed sprint programs
designed to improve the 40-yard dash. The programs are 8 weeks long and the goal is to
maximize running speed. You will find the listed programs have 2 lower body workouts
per week and 2 upper body workouts per week. Although you could consider the upper
body workouts optional, I realize most of you will want to train upper body as well, if
nothing more then the vanity effect!

Exercises include both those designed to develop your maximum strength and
those designed to improve your ability to develop force quickly. Exercises such as heavy
squats and deadlifts are used for maximum strength while exercises such as jump squats
and other high-speed movements are used for rate of force development.

A surefire method to raising your performance is by paying attention to your
progress in the various exercises. If your heavy lifts such as deadlifts and squats are
getting heavier, your higher speed lifts such as speed squats are getting faster and more
explosive, and your jumps are getting higher, your sprints should be getting faster as

Program Flow

You will notice the actual sprinting portion of the programs flows from short to
long over the 8 weeks. That is, speed is first developed over shorter distances through
shorter sprints and that speed is then carried out over further distances. This is the same
method used by most top sprint coaches today, which allows one to work high quality
speed with short sprints and then work on extending that speed over longer distances.
This method has proven more fruitful then programs that build speed over longer
distances that then try to apply that speed endurance to short distances. That system is
inferior, because the longer distances dont recruit the same quality of muscle fibers or
reflect the training specificity of the shorter distances. The general order of progression
is to emphasize acceleration, speed, then speed endurance. Since athletes in team sports
rarely sprint more than 40 yards, there is no need to train for speed endurance.

Sample Programs

Keep in mind these programs are just examples that are designed for intermediate
level athletes. A cookie-cutter set-up is never optimal and in a perfect world any training
you do would be completely individualized just for you, but these examples should serve
well for the majority of athletes. To avoid placing everybody on the same cookie cutter
set-up, I have 2 different programs. Some people will have solid coordination and
movement efficiency already in place and will benefit more from strength training. These
people will be faster than they are strong. They should perform program I. Others will
need to work more on movement efficiency and plyometric training. They will be
stronger than they are fast. These people should perform program II.

Perform program I if you fit most of the following characteristics:

A: Your strength is not dramatically ahead of your speed (e.g. You dont squat 2 x or
more your bodyweight and only run a 5.0 fourty yard dash)
B: You squat 1.5 x your bodyweight or less
C: Your start (first 20 yards) is not dramatically faster then your top speed.
D: Your best bilateral (2-legs) vertical jump from either a run-up or a depth jump is
about 20% or more higher then your best jump from a standstill.
E: You are fairly well coordinated and move fluidly (e.g. people dont tell you that
youre heavy on your feet).

Perform program II if you fit any of the following characteristics:

Perform this program if youre obviously much stronger then you are fast, which can be
identified by a majority of the following characteristics:

A: You will tend to be much faster at the start than the finish of a race
B: You will tend to have a thicker build with large ankles, short legs, and long torso.
C: Your running vertical jump will be nearly the same as your standing vertical jump.
D: Your strength will be ahead of your speed and movement efficiency (you have good
weight room numbers but not so impressive speed and vertical jump numbers).

Program I For the Strength Deficient Athlete

Day and Exercise Week #1 Week #2 Week #3 Week #4 Comments
Sun: Off
Monday: Lower

Dynamic warm-
up as written
lunge, calf
stretch, sumo
squat, hurdle
duck under,
straight leg
elbow to foot
constant for
all speed
High knees, butt
kicks, skips
3 x 25 yards Same Same Same
50 yard buildups 3 3 3 3 Walk back to
the start
4x10 yard
starts from
4x 20yard
falling starts

4 x 10 yd
starts from
4 x 20 yd
falling starts
2x30 yards
from 2 pt
3 x 10 yd
starts from 3
pt stance
3 x 20 yd
falling starts
2x 30 yd
starts from 2
pt stance
2 x 40 yd
sprints from
3 pt stance
3 x 10 yd
from 3 pt
2x20 yd
2x40 yd
from 3 pt

Separate the
speed work
from the rest
of the
workout if
desired. Ex:
sprints and
plyos in the
a.m and lift
in the p.m.
Single leg hops
2 x 20 yards
per leg
Same Same Same Do these on
grass. Focus
with the
plant leg,
with the hips
held high,
and let the
action take
care of itself
Snatch Grip
3 x 5 4 x 3 4 x 2 2 x 2

DB Split squat 2 x 6-8/leg Same Same Same
Leg curl or Glute
Ham raise
4 x 5 Same Same Same
Tues: Off

Lateral cone
3 x 10 3 x 10 3 x 10 Eliminate Use a
sized object
about knee
level in
height. Hop
back and
forth over it.
Each ground
contact = 1

Box Squat jump- 4 x 6 Same Same eliminate Sit back on a
chair or
boxes pause
and jump up
as high as
possible for
2 sets and
out as far as
possible for
2 sets. You
can also use
objects to
jump on or
over to make
the exercise
Bench press-

4 x 5 5 x 4 5x3,3,2,2,1
(3 minute
minute rest

3 x3

One arm dumbell
3 x 8 Same Same Same
Front raise

2 x 8 Same Same same
Optional Beach
work (10 min

Thursday: Off
Friday: Speed
Work and Lower
Body work

Speed and
x 3 (use 10
yard stride in
x 3
Flying 20s
x 3
Flying 20s
40s x 3-
5 (or stop
Separate the
speed work
from the rest
of the
accelerate for
20 yards)
Flying 20s x

x 3

x 3

starts to

workout if
desired. Ex:
sprints and
plyos in the
a.m and lift
in the p.m.
Single leg on box

2 x 5/leg 2 x 5/leg 2 x 5/leg eliminate Use box
about 12-18
inches high.
Stand on one
leg and jump
up on the
Speed Squats

4 x 3 at 30-

Same Same eliminate (Drop down
into a squat
and explode
up drop
down into
the hole at
good speed)

Drop and catch
leg curls or
Reactive Glute
Ham Raise-
4 x 5 4 x 5 4 x 5 eliminate (If using the
leg curl,
raise the
weight with
2 legs relax
and let the
weight fall
and catch it
with one leg
attempting to
hold the
weight in
Saturday Upper

Dumbell Bench

2 x 10-15 Same Same Same

Chinup- Max reps
with bodyweight

2 sets 2 sets 2 sets 2sets
Weighted swiss
ball crunch
2 x 15-20 2 x 15-20 2 x 15-20 2 x 15-

Decline leg raise 2 x as many
reps as
2 x as many
reps as
2 x as many
reps as
2 x as
reps as

Beach Work 10
(optional) work
on pecs, biceps,
triceps, etc.

Phase II

Day and
Week #1 Week #2 Week #3 Week #4 Comments
Sun: Off
Mon: Speed
Lower Body

Warmup as
per above
High knee,
butt kick,
skip 25 yds x
Same Same Same
and speed

3x30 yd
from 2 pt.
2x40 yd
from 3 pt.
1 x60 yards
from 3 pt

3x30 yds
from 3 pt
2x40 yds
from 3 pt
1 x60 yards
from 3 pt

3x30 yds
from 2 pt
3x40 yds
from 2 pt
1 x 60 yards
from 3 pt

Test 40
Separate the
speed work
from the rest of
the workout if
desired. Ex:
perform sprints
in the a.m and
lift in the p.m.
Barbell Back

4 x 5

5 x 3, 3, 2,
2, 1




n/a n/a 2 x 6-8 reps 2 x 6-8

2 x 6-8 2 x 6-8 eliminate eliminate
Glute ham
raise, leg
curl, or


3 x 6-8

2 x max reps
3 x 6-8

2 x max reps
3 x 6-8

2 x max reps

2 x max

Tues: Off
Wed: Plyo
Upper Body

Side to Side
box depth

4x8 4 x 8 4 x 8 2 x 8 (Stand on box
and step off to
one side,
rebound back
up, step off to
the other side,
rebound back
up. Use a box
12-18 inches
high each
ground contact
equals 1
2 x 4 2 x 4 2 x 4 2 x 4 Simply stand in
place and jump
up onto a box
and step off.
Use a box high
enough to be
Bench Press

4 x 5 5 x 5 5x5,4,3,2,1 3 x 3

Seated Row-

4 x 6 4 x 6 4 x 6 3 x 6

Dip- 4x6-8
2 x6-8 2 x 6-8 2 x 6-8 2 x 6-8
Beach work-
10-15 min

Thurs: Off
Fri: Speed
Work /
Lower body

As per usual

Speed Work 30 yd
x 3
50 yd x 2 (2
pt start)

30 yd
x 3
50 yd x 2 (2
pt start
40 yd
x 4
50 yd x 2 (3-
pt start)
40 yd test Separate the
speed work
from the rest of
the workout if
desired. Ex:
perform sprints
and plyos in the
a.m and lift in
the p.m.
Depth jump

4 x 4 4 x 4 4x 4 Use about an
18 inch box
Jump Squat
with pause
4 x 3 at 30%
of max squat
4 x 3 at 30% 4 x 3 at 30% Use 3 second
pause at
parallel and
explode up
Drop and
catch leg
curl, reactive
glute ham,
or reverse

3 x 5, 3 x 10
seconds, or 3
x 5
3 x 10
seconds, or 3
x 5
3 x 5, 3 x 10
seconds, or 3
x 5

Upper Body

Push press

4 x 4 4 x 3 5 x 2 3 x 3

max reps in
10 seconds

2 sets 3 sets 3 sets 2 sets
2 x 12 2 x 12 2 x 12 2 x 12
Arm curl-

2 x 10 2 x 10 2 x 10 2 x 10

2 x 10 2 x 10 2 x 10 2 x 10
cable crunch
2 x 12-15 Same Same Same

Program II For The Speed Deficient Athlete

Keep the warm-ups, the upper body workouts, as well as the lower body plyometric work
that you use in workout B the same. Replace workouts A & C with the following:
Phase I (Weeks 1-4)
Exercise Week#1 Week#2 Week#3 Week#4 Comments
Workout A:
30 yard
4 5 5 3 Separate the speed work
from the rest of the workout
if desired. Ex: perform
sprints in the a.m and lift in
the p.m.
Single leg
hops left,
right and
2 x 5 per
leg to
each side
Same same same Stand on one leg and take 5
big hops to your left then 5
big hops back to your right,
then 5 hops forward. Take a
brief rest in between each set
of 5.
Jump squat
with barbell
(10% of
Perform rhythmically and
continuously The
percentage given is the % of
max squat
The percentages listed are
Full Squat 2x6

Workout B:
Flying 20
yard sprints
4 5 5 3 Accelerate smoothly over 30
yards then hold top speed for
20 yards. Separate the speed
work from the rest of the
workout if desired. Ex:
perform sprints in the a.m
and lift in the p.m.
Single leg
triple jump
Same Same Same Focus more on the
absorbing then the pushoff.
2x5 2 x 5 2 x 5 2x5 2 minutes rest use box
about 18 inches high
Jump Squat
with Barbell
Perform continuously 2
minutes rest
Glute ham
or leg curl
3 x 5 3 x 5 4 x 4 3 x 5
Phase II (weeks 5-8)
Exercise Week#1 Week#2 Week#3 Week#4 Remarks

Single leg
box jumps
medial, and
3 x 5 front,
left, right
3 x 5
left, right
3 x 5
front, left,
2x 3
front, left
Use a low box, step, or
stair about 6-12 inches
high. Stand on one leg,
face the box, jump on
the box, pause, and then
step off the box. Do 5
reps facing the box, 5
reps with the box
directly to your right,
and 5 reps with the box
directly to your left
Depth jumps 3x5 4x5 4x5 2x5 Use moderately high
box around 18 inches
Jump squat
with barbell

hyper, Leg
curl or glute
3 x 6 3 x 6 3 x 6 3 x 6
Full squat 2x6 (75%) 3x5
Eliminate eliminate
Workout B:
40 yard dash Perform
reps until
Same Same Same Separate the speed
work from the rest of
the workout if desired.
Ex: perform sprints in
the a.m and lift in the
Jump squat 3x12 3x10 3x8 2x5
with barbell (15%) (20%) (25%) (30%)
Speed box
4 x 3
4 x 3
4x 3
3 x 3
Sit back on the box,
pause, and explode out
as fast as possible
Drop and
catch leg
curl, reverse
hyper or
3 x 5 (leg
curl) or 3 x
10 seconds
hyper or
glute ham)
3 x 5 or
3 x 10
3 x 5 or 3
x 10
3 x 5 or 3
x 10
From the top of a leg
curl, drop the weight,
let it fall, catch past
the mid-point, and
explode back up

A Simple Yet Cutting Edge Variant Horizontal Loading

Yet another variation to use in a training split would be to use a form of horizontal
loading as a form of strength training. When I refer to horizontal loading I'm referring to
exercises like sled pulls and similar movements where the resistance comes in a
horizontal plane rather than a vertical plane. Even a loaded shopping cart can offer an
effective means of horizontal loading.** Think about this for a second. Almost all the
popular primary strength-training movements available to us in the weight room offer
resistance in a vertical plane. In other words, the resistance is coming "down". However,
sprinting occurs in a horizontal plane. Vertical loading is still effective because the
objective of general strength training is to stimulate and strengthen the muscles involved
in the movement and stimulate the magnitude of muscular recruitment - not necessarily
mimick the exact movement pattern involved. Movements such as squats, lunges, and
split squats are staples for speed development because they recruit and strengthen the
glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings effectively. Having said that, horizontal loading may
offer some advantages as a form of special and specific strength training. Before
explaining why, Id like to briefly discuss general to specific training methods.

General strength training exercises strengthen and stimulate the muscles
involved in a movement pattern and do not attempt to duplicate the sports movement.
These exercises are necessary to develop the force component of power. Examples are
deadlifts, squats, etc. Special strength training exercises attempt to convert general
strength to explosiveness. Examples are jump squats, speed lifts, and olympic lifts.
Specific strength exercises are utilized to develop the velocity component of power and
attempt to provide power improvement in a way that is specific to the required technique
of an athlete. Examples of such exercises would include bounding, jumping, hopping, and
various sprint variations. Towing exercises can really fit in all 3 categories, depending
upon how much resistance is used.

The ability to get force into the ground and create forward movement occurs
when the foot is placed under the center of gravity and pushed back. A weighted sled
offers resistance that must be propelled horizontally. I would consider horizontal loading
for the sprints as a special type of reverse leg press or a reverse hyperextension with your
feet on the ground. Pulling a heavy sled or using some other form of horizontal
resistance can also offer some advantages for strengthening the specific muscles involved
in the sprint, primarily the hamstrings and glutes.

** A device called a power-runner can also be used for this purpose

The current most popular line of thinking when using sleds and other forms of
towing is that the resistance should not be so great so as to interfere with sprinting
mechanics. Therefore, various coaches have often recommended sprinters and other
speed seeking athletes sprint 10-40 yards towing a very lightly loaded sled using a
resistance that causes no more than a 10% reduction in sprint times. Their reasoning is
that if the sled is too heavy the runners technique is excessively compromised. So, if
you were going to use loaded sprints as a form of specific resistance training over 40
yards, and your best 40 was 5.0, you wouldnt want to use so much resistance that you
couldnt at least run a 5.5 second 40. (5.0 + 10%).

However, rather than use towing as a form of specific sprint loading to provide a
bit of resistance to a normal sprint, I also recommend using heavier sled pulls more as a
form of special or general strength training. In other words, sack up to a heavy sled
strong man style and pull or march with all your might for 5-15 seconds per set and really
try to pound the lower body. One need not use a ton of resistance but enough resistance to
make pulling the sled a bit of a challenge. Try pulling your bodyweight. Keep in mind
your technique really doesnt have to resemble a perfect sprint. Youre using this more
as a form of strength training then you are sprint training. You can perform them both
linearly (straight ahead), and laterally (sideways). Based on results I've seen, athletes can
benefit from using heavier sled pulls as a form of strength training and greatly enhance
the acceleration phase of a sprint without interfering with sprint mechanics.

For optimal results, you can even use both heavier and lighter towing in a given
training cycle. Use heavier towing for strength in one workout and lighter more specific
sprint-oriented towing in another workout. A sample split I've used with some athletes
that I've seen great results out of looks like this:

Day 1-
A1.dynamic warmup
B1.short sprints- 10's and 20's- 4-6 reps each
C1.Heavier sled pulls (linearly and lateral)- 6-8 total sets x 10-20 seconds each

Day 2-
off- dynamic warmup

Day 3-
dynamic warmup
lightly loaded sprints- x 30-40 yards (use enough resistance to cause a
~10% reduction in normal sprint times)
bodyweight sprints- x 30-40 yards
Alternate 1 set of lightly loaded sprints with 1 set of bodyweight sprints. Repeat until the
times of the unloaded sprints begin to decline.

Day 4- off dynamic warmup

Day 5- repeat workout #1

Im going to spend quite a bit of time talking about conditioning because its a
topic that many people seem to screw up in one form or another. Obviously, a certain
amount of conditioning is necessary. You cant train unless youre in shape and if doing
something as simple as getting your butt of the couch causes you to huff and puff, youre
obviously not in shape to train. However, when training to develop speed and power we
must be careful that we send our body the right messages. Think of the difference
between a marathon and a 50-yard sprint. They both involve running but thats where the
similarities end. As far as energy systems go, theyre at 2 entirely ends of the spectrum.
One requires your body to make use of the aerobic (oxygen) system to supply 90% of the
energy. One is pure anaerobic (without oxygen).
The adaptations that make you extremely aerobically efficient are in nearly
complete opposition to those required that make you extremely anaerobically efficient
and vice versa. Which means the adaptations that allow you to run marathons as
efficiently as possible inhibit the adaptations that allow you to sprint 50 yards as fast as
possible. The adaptations that allow you to sprint 50 yards as fast as possible inhibit the
adaptations that allow you to run marathons. Which is primarily why sprinters and
marathon runners look and perform nothing alike whatsoever. Not exactly scientific but
true nonetheless. One is muscular, strong, powerful, and fast over very short distances.
The other is weak, lacks power, and is usually quite slow, but can run slow for a very
long time. ***
Along those same lines, we could also compare sprinters to milers, powerlifters to
rowers, throwers to 800-meter sprinters, Olympic lifters to cross country skiers, or
football players to soccer players.
*** A typical marathon runner often has a vertical jump no higher than 12 inches.
The Spectrum
Think of 2 ends of a spectrum. One represents speed, strength, and power. The
other represents endurance:
speed, strength,power--------------------------------------------------------------endurance
A sprinter, powerlifter, Olympic lifter, thrower, gymnast, and football player
operate at one end of the spectrum, that being the strength/speed/power end. The
distance runner, cross-country skier, rower, or swimmer reside at the other end of the
spectrum, that being the endurance end. The 800 meter runner, basketball player, boxer,
soccer player, etc. reside somewhere in the middle.
Those on the speed, strength, and power end are characterized by being very fast,
very strong, and very powerful. Those on the endurance end are characterized by being
like an energizer bunny. They aint gonna turn any heads with their speed, but theyll
keep going and going and going. Those in the middle are a mix of both. They dont have
the power, speed, or strength of the sprinters, throwers, gymnasts, or football players; and
they dont have the endurance of the marathon runner, cyclist, or cross country skiers, but
they have a good mix of both.
Conditioning and No Mans Land
The point of all this is the effect conditioning has on your speed, strength, and
power gains. You can do EVERYTHING 100% correct when training for increased
speed, explosiveness, and strength, yet if you expose your body to too much endurance
oriented training you end up in what I call No Mans Land, which means you end up in
the land of the boxer, 800 meter runner, or soccer player whose speed, strength, and
power are limited by the amount of conditioning work they must endure.
Theres a mentality in this world that more is always better and youre a lazy bum
unless you have the endurance of a NAVY SEAL. But if you try to train for an iron man
triathlon and a sprint race at the same time, youre sending a message that says, Ok
muscles you need LOADS of endurance. Thats all well and good if thats your goal,
but as noted, the same adaptations that lead to great endurance (increased mitochondrial
density) also severely ini ini ini ini adaptations towards speed and power. Try to train for both
simultaneously and your body will develop the endurance you need but youll severely
limit your gains in speed and explosiveness. This is particularly true when youre trying
to make nc. nc. nc. nc. strength and power gains. ^vinvinin ^vinvinin ^vinvinin ^vinvinin strength and power while building
endurance is one thing. Improving strength and power while dramatically improving
endurance is another thing altogether.
When most people think of high flying athletes with great vertical jumps they
probably think of basketball players. Yet realize this: The average professional
basketball player is doing good to vertical jump 30 inches while many NFL football
players (excluding offensive lineman), regularly approach 40 inch verticals. Why is this?

Well, for one thing basketball play itself is fairly aerobic. Basketball players have
to engage in a lot of running and conditioning just playing their sport. The average
football play lasts 4-6 seconds and is followed by a 30 second pause. Basketball guys are
essentially running intervals for 30-48 minutes. This has a negative affect on maximal
strength and power production.
We also have to consider how a typical basketball player would train. The
popular approach is for basketball players to spend their entire off-season playing 2 hours
of street-ball 3-5 days per week and 1 or 2 AAU games for almost the entire summer.
Its basketball and more basketball playing and conditioning but no real training.
Basketball players and coaches also dont tend to appreciate strength training as much as
football players. The average football player has no problem getting in the weight room
and getting after it but the average basketball player in the weight room is a lot like many
girls when it comes to the iron. Many girls are afraid theyre gonna get too big, or
bulk up** Many basketball players are afraid those weights are gonna make them slow
or muscle-bound. As a result, if the basketball player does any extraneous training at all,
its more likely to be a ton of plyometric work, which is the last thing he needs. The
result is the average basketball player spins his wheels in the off-season while football
players tend to come back faster and stronger year-after-year simply because, if nothing
else, theyre continually boosting up their core motor abilities like strength. Football
players dont play in the off-season; they hit the weights.
**I realize this doesnt describe all basketball players but Im really not joking when I say this. I actually know several coaches who
wont train basketball players for this exact reason.
Now, what happens when we do run across the rare basketball player who
actually does value the weight room and decides to take a no-holds barred attitude
towards getting his strength up in the off-season? Well, chances are pretty good hes also
gonna wanna play about 12 hours of basketball per week. What do you think is gonna
happen? Not a whole lot! Hell probably end up running himself right into the ground
due to all that volume and conditioning. His conditioning is always there yet little ever
happens to his maximal strength. In reality, a much better way to approach the off-season
for the basketball player would be to reduce on-court time by a significant margin,
maintain his skill work, and focus more on foundational qualities such as maximal
My Own Experience With No Mans Land
A couple of years ago at the age of 30 I decided I wanted to box competitively.
At the time my training more closely resembled that of a sprinter. For the most part I
trained according to the principles outlined in this manual. Even though I had some minor
injuries I had a vertical jump of 35 inches or better and could knock off a 4.4 second 40
yard dash. My endurance left a lot to be desired though. If you'd asked me to run repeat
40-yard dashes with 1 minutes rest I'd probably only be able to run 5 or 6 below 5
seconds before I'd just gas out. My best mile run was probably above 7 minutes. I'd get
in the boxing ring and was quicker and stronger then most of my opponents but Id be on
the floor sucking wind inside of 2 rounds. My fitness state was pretty good compared to
the average person but left a lot to be desired when it came to the conditioning needed to
box at a high level.
Obviously, my training had to change. That meant instead of lots of speed and
explosive training I had to start engaging in lots of endurance oriented training. That
meant tons of long intervals consisting of workouts like 3-minute agility drills out in the
hot sun with only 1 minute breaks, 3 mile runs, and plenty of general boxing training
including: Jump rope, heavy bag work, and lots of sparring. After 2 months of that
torture I'd definitely built up a significant amount of endurance. I could go out and easily
run ten 100 yard sprints under 15 seconds with about 45 seconds rest. I could go 6 three-
minute rounds in the ring with 30 seconds rest with no problem. However, in order to
build that endurance I had to trade some of my explosiveness. Even though I lost weight,
no longer could I vertical jump 35 inches and no longer could I hit a 4.4 second 40. My
best vertical jump declined to around 32 inches and my best 40 was around 4.65. Oh, my
power endurance was very good - I could run repeat 4.9 second 40's with 45 seconds rest
all day long and I could probably hit a 30 inch vertical jump for 100 consecutive jumps
without declining. But in order to build that kind've power endurance I had to trade off a
bit of my top end.
Now, if you're a football player, basketball player, or even a soccer player, that's
kind've an extreme example because boxing requires an EXTREME amount of
conditioning. You're not gonna need that type of conditioning. If youre an athlete in
one of those sports, providing you approach it properly, you can build all the endurance
you need without having to trade off anything if you approach things correctly, as I will
describe in just a minute.
The point of all this is that you gotta remember, youre training for speed over
very short distances, not for marathons! You dont wanna put yourself in NO MANS
LAND where you sacrifice power for power endurance at an inappropriate time.
Power vs Power Endurance
Regardless of what measure of performance youre talking about (running,
jumping, throwing a fastball etc.), you have to develop the level of your freshest peak
effort before you develop the ability to extend that effort, otherwise, you wont be
preparing for maximal performance, youll just be conditioning yourself for prolonged
sub-maximal performance. Heres an example to illustrate my point:
Let's say you have 2 basketball players and both of them play guard. Player A
takes his off-season and really works on becoming faster and more explosive overall. He
reduces his on-court time and really devotes himself to strength and power training. The
result is he comes out of the off-season running a 2.5 second 20-yard dash with a 40-inch
vertical jump. However, player B really takes a hardcore no-holds barred approach to
conditioning for his entire off-season and, in addition to playing several full-court games
per week, also devotes himself to getting up at 5am and running 5 miles per day, running
up long hills in the mountains, and all kinds of other hardcore metabolic conditioning
stuff so that he can be the go-to guy and be just as fresh in the 4th quarter as he was in
the first quarter. He (Player B) ends up running a 3.0 second 20-yard dash and he has a
30-inch vertical jump. Just based on this information we know that Player A will be able
to get up and down the court faster than player B and jump quite a bit better too.
However, lets assume player Bs efforts paid off so his endurance is twice as
good. In other words, throughout a game his initial starting performance only declines
half as much as player A. Player A drops off at 5% per quarter while player B only drops
off at 2.5% per quarter.
So, if we measured the performance of these 2 athletes in the 20-yard sprint and
vertical jump from quarter to quarter it might look something like this:
Quarter Player A Player B
20 yard dash - Vertical Jump 20 yard dash-Vertical Jump
1 2.5 seconds 40 inches 3.0 seconds 30 inches
2 2.62 seconds 38 inches 3.07 seconds 29 inches
3 2.75 seconds 36.1 inches 3.14 seconds 27.5 inches
4 2.88seconds 34.2 inches 3.22 seconds 26.8 inches
OT 3.00 seconds 32.4 inches 3.30 seconds 26.1 inches
Even though player As starting sprint times and vertical jump declined more than
25% over the course of the game his sprint time after 4 full quarters and an overtime was
still just as fast as Player B's freshest sprint and his vertical jump was still better than
player Bs was at the very beginning!
Anybody can build endurance and it responds quickly. But building the
foundational qualities necessary for great speed and explosiveness takes time and is more
difficult. Put it this way. I can go to any major American city and probably find at least
1000 people on any given day that are capable of running a marathon. Conversely, in
those same cities, if I'm lucky I might be able to find 50 people that can run 4.4 seconds
over 40 yards or vertical jump 40 inches....if that many.
Now, just imagine what would happen if you took Player A and "appropriately"
conditioned him with the right stuff at the right time of the year so that he could sustain
his performance at a level close to player B? He'd be running circles around everyone
and jumping over everyone throughout all 4 quarters.
Dont Go Overboard
Now, all this doesn't mean you should sit on your butt and turn into a fat out of
shape slob during the off-season because you're totally paranoid about any conditioning
work interfering with your gains. A modicum of conditioning should be maintained year
around and you can develop a level of conditioning thatll make you like an energizer
bunny in your sport, you just have to approach it the right way. You have to build the
power first and add the intensive conditioning at the right time. As I mentioned earlier,
there's a big difference between maintaining a decent level of conditioning while
improving power and strength, versus trying to vastly improve conditioning while also
trying to simultaneously improve power and strength. In the first case your gains will be
good. In the second case theyll likely be non-existent.
The correct approach to improving your game conditioning is to lay down your
strength, power, and speed first, then work on maintaining those qualities while you take
a short time to bring up your conditioning. Since this manual is about IMPROVING
your speed, I'm mainly gonna talk about the type of conditioning you can do that won't
interfere with that. Additionally, I'll also give a few examples of how to go about really
boosting your conditioning when it's time to get in game shape for your sport.
How To Implement Conditioning Without Interfering With
Speed, Strength and Power?
During the off-season when your focus is on strength, power, and speed its ok to
add in some extra conditioning work, you just have to make sure you dont go overboard
to the point where it interferes with your gains. If implemented correctly and at optimal
volumes, the addition of .onc .onc .onc .onc lower intensity work can serve to maintain your
conditioning, keep you lean, and even improve recovery.
So how do we get the benefits of extra conditioning work without stimulating
negative endurance adaptations? Well, we do the following things:
A: We have to make sure we give our fast twitch muscles and our nervous system time
to recover between bouts of intense exercise. High intensity speed training can be
considered any speed training activity where you run at 80% or more of maximum effort
or speed. Other intense forms of training include weight training, moderate to high-
intensity plyometric work, and intense agility training. Putting out this level of effort is
not only demanding on muscular system, but more importantly, it is very demanding on
the central nervous system. The central nervous system requires about 48 hours for
recovery after high intensity activity! Therefore, if you try to train at high intensity for 2
days in a row youll be apt to run into problems with recovery. In order to avoid burnout
while still being in a position to incorporate extra training on your off days, you must
make sure the extra conditioning work you do is performed at a lower level of effort -
otherwise it will interfere with your recovery.
B: The primary stress that causes fast explosive oriented muscle fibers to transfer into
slower endurance oriented muscle fibers is bathing the fast twitch muscles in lactic acid.
This occurs with intensive intervals like traditional gassers and other intense aerobic
work, where the level of effort is high and the level of muscular recruitment is fairly high,
yet so is the fatigue level and burn. This type of work not only recruits a lot of fast
twitch muscle fiber but also stimulates a lot of lactic acid accumulation. Lactic acid is
what gives you the burn whenever you run intense intervals. Intensive means the
workout gets progressively harder because of pace and/or volume and you leave the
workout feeling dead tired. Therefore, when our focus is on increasing neuromuscular
qualities like strength, power, speed, and explosiveness, we want to avoid this type of
intensive conditioning work and make sure we engage in extensive conditioning work,
which doesnt recruit the fast twitch fibers and doesnt bathe them in lactic acid. Our fast
twitch muscle fibers get recruited plenty from our speed, power, and strength training
work. Recruiting them even more through conditioning work just tells them, Ok boys
you need to trade some of your explosiveness for some endurance. Thats not what you
C: To avoid unnecessary negative adaptations, youll want to emphasize intensive (a.k.a.
puke inducing) type conditioning only at certain times of the year such as the late off-
season and preseason. The rest of the time youll want to emphasize extensive
conditioning work.
Extensive conditioning work- also called tempo work, is any fairly low to moderate
effort work that stimulates recovery, work capacity development, and elevates or
maintains your fitness state without detracting from your specific training goals.
Extensive tempo can be viewed in many different ways and achieved in many different
ways. The two ways I view it:

1) A way to increase fitness and work capacity
2) A regeneration tool from harder work
Extensive means the workout can be finished and you can leave feeling refreshed. During
the off-season if you choose to engage in extensive conditioning work it should be
performed at an intensity and volume low enough that you feel better afterwards and
dont wear yourself out to the point that you leave the workout not being able to perform
as good as you did at the beginning of the workout. An extensive tempo day should not
have you throwing up or feeling dead.
Ideally, we want to stimulate the cardiovascular system, improve blood flow to
the muscles, and stay active - but we want to do so in a manner that is speed specific
without being too demanding on either the muscular or the central nervous system.
This type of work also has other benefits as well. It serves as a form of active
recovery, enhancing blood flow and increasing capillary density in the musculature. It
stimulates the metabolism, and promotes a lean body composition.
Extensive Conditioning Options
You have several options at your disposal. One of them is to simply engage in
your sport at a lower level of effort. A football player might go out a couple of days per
week and run some pass routes. A basketball player might go out and work on his ball
handling or engage in some shooting skill work. Not exactly hardcore, but better than

Another obvious option is running. You can run over fairly short distances (100-
400 yards/meters) at a lower level of effort (60-70% of max speed) with fairly short rest
intervals between runs (30-45 seconds).

Guidelines For Speed of Extensive Conditioning Session

The speed at which you perform these runs is important. If you perform them too
fast (over 80% of max effort), you recruit the fast twitch muscle fibers and that will
hamper your ability to recover from your main training session. Regular interval
training methods do exactly this. The speed is too fast and too demanding to fully allow
recovery to take place, but too slow to improve speed. If you run at 65-75% of maximum
speed, the speed is fast enough to stay sprint specific, and slow enough as to not be too
draining on the muscular or nervous system. The pace should be done so that youre
running smoothly and effortlessly - going faster then a jog but not an all out sprint. The
last run should be just as easy as the first. If not, youre probably creating excessive
fatigue and need to cut down on speed. Because we want to emphasize recovery and not
speed its also a good idea to do this training on a soft surface such as grass or sand, so
that you can avoid excessive wear and tear on the feet.

Guidelines For Rest Intervals

With extensive tempo work, you can stimulate the cardiovascular system by using
fairly short rest intervals. The rest intervals should be set up so that they are short enough
that you place some strain on your cardiovascular system, but long enough so that your
muscular system stays relatively fresh. If youre generating a lot of lactic acid in your
legs, or getting a burn, you need to rest longer between runs. You should be breathing
fairly hard yet your muscles should not be trashed.

Guidelines For Volume

The volume should be set so that you stay sprint specific and get a workout in
without generating a lot of excessive fatigue. For a 100-meter sprinter, total volumes
generally run 1000-3000 meters total over a session. I recommend most people stick to
volumes around 1000-2000 yards total.

Examples of workouts

Here are some sample extensive running workouts you can use:

Option 1:
3 sets of 5x110 yard runs at 60-70% max speed
rest :30 seconds between each sprint
After each set of 5 sprints walk 110 yards

Option 2:
8 sets of 220-yard runs at 60-70%
:45 seconds rest between runs

Option 3:
+ denotes 50 yard walk
set #1 100+100+100
set #2 100+200+100
set #3 200+100+200
set#4 100+200+100
set#5 100+100+100

rest 1:30 between each set.

Option 4:
150-yard shuttle runs at 70% max effort. (change directions every 25 yards)
4-8 total sets with 1:00 rests between each one.

The main focus during tempo runs is on running but we can also get creative and throw in
various other activities such as calisthenics or any type of activity that is stimulating yet
not too demanding. Here are some ideas:

Treadmill walking - Any cardiovascular activity that you do at 75% or less of your
maximum heart rate and DOESN'T put a lot of pounding on your feet or create a lot of
lactic acid (burn) is OK. Walking on the treadmill, stairclimbing etc. are all fine to use as
"tempo" variations for 20-30 minutes. What you want to avoid is this type of long
duration cardio performed at a rapid pace.

Treadmill Intervals You can also do interval sprints on the treadmill. Sprint 20-30
seconds at 10 mph followed by a 1-minute walk. Go for 20-30 minutes total

Rowing - Hey try the rowing machine at your gym every once in a while. You might
enjoy it.

Heavy Bag Work - Not only is this fun but it will also give you a great workout and is a
heckuva lot funner than moving along aimlessly on a treadmill. Work on your jabs, right
crosses, and hooks. When you become proficient at these start adding in other
combinations. Go anywhere from 1-3 minutes with about 1 minute rest intervals each
round. Go for about 20-30 minutes total

Sledgehammer Work - Get a sledgehammer and beat the heck out of an old tire with it.
You can either go for time or number of strikes. I recommend either an 8-12 lb
sledgehammer to start off with. Focus on 2 different strikes - a diagonal strike and
vertical strike. Swing left handed and right handed. The form is natural for most people
and is basically like swinging an axe. I like to use rounds of 1-3 minutes just like with the
heavy bag work. A good pace is about 30-40 strikes per minute. Rest for 1 minute in
between sets and repeat for 3-6 total sets.

Swimming - Use the stroke of your choice and either go for time or for intervals. The
more proficient at your stroke you are, the longer you can go. I recommend beginners tart
off with intervals. Swim a couple of laps, rest a minute, and repeat. Gradually build up
your capacity. If you're quite proficient you can also vary your strokes every couple of

Sandbag Lifting - This is definitely an old school way of getting a conditioning workout
in. You'll need a bag and a table. A Fifty to 70 pound sandbag oughta be about right for
most people. Remember we're not trying to set any records here and we don't want to get
injured, we just want to get a decent workout in. So don't try to use a bag so heavy that
it's gonna fry your lower back. The tailgate of a truck works fine as a table. Simply take a
sandbag off the ground, pick it up and set it on a table, then pick it back up and set it
down. Start off with about 30-50 repetitions per set and increase as your capacity grows.

Medicine Ball Complexes - If you have a wall or a partner and a 5 to 15 pound medicine
ball you can put together a great workout. Heres an example:

Perform 10 reps of each exercise. Perform the entire circuit non-stop or with very shorts
rest intervals (10-30 seconds) between exercises. After completion of the circuit, rest 1
minute and repeat for 3-5 circuits.

Med ball chest pass feet stationary
Chest pass stepping left leg forward
Chest pass stepping right leg forward
Overhead pass stationary
Overhead pass stepping left leg forward
Overhead pass stepping right leg forward
Scoop toss - (throw straight up in the air and catch)
Twisting toss left
Twisting toss right
Slam toss (slam into the ground)

You can also mix medicine ball complexes with light running. For example, a great
tempo workout for a football team is to perform a med ball exercise, jog 55 yards across
the field, perform another med. ball exercise, and continue in that fashion for 10 or so

Calisthenic or mobility circuits

Put together a series of calisthenic or mobility movements in combination and
perform them one right after another. I recommend you go for 3-4 minutes total per set
with 30 seconds to 1 minute per movement. After each round, take a 1-minute break and
repeat. Some possible exercises you can throw together include:

Jumping jacks, bodyweight squats, alternate lunges, straight leg front kicks, burpees, run
in place, run in place with high knees, mountain climbers, situps, slalom jump, shuffle
splits, roundhouse kick, good morning, skip in place, pushup, v-up, twisting lunge, duck
back and forth under imaginary hurdle, slalom jumps.

Jump rope- This is a great activity but due to the impact forces this is an activity that big
guys might want to reconsider. I recommend you build towards doing 3-minute rounds
with 1-minute breaks in between rounds. Repeat for 6 rounds total.

With all these variations you should have plenty of options to choose from and
shouldnt ever get bored. In addition to the options already mentioned you also have
plenty of other options available such as: Slideboards, kettlebell swings, and tennis. Don't
be afraid to get creative and throw things together. Often what I like to have people do is
take a few of the above variations, put them together in stations, and go from station to
station with 1-minute rest intervals. We might start off with heavy bag boxing for 3
minutes, jump rope for 3 minutes, med-ball tosses for 3-minutes, agility ladder for 3
minutes, sledgehammer strike for 3 minutes, calisthenics for 3 minutes, and repeat the
entire circuit for 20-30 minutes total with 1 minutes rest between each station. Dont be
afraid to get creative.

Guidelines for Frequency of Extensive Tempo Workouts

These workouts are optional and when your {o.v. {o.v. {o.v. {o.v. is on building your speed they
should be done depending upon how motivated you are to train. If you are tired and
dont feel like training then dont!! However, if youre on an off day and feel like doing
something a low intensity session is a good way to get some training in without running
yourself into the ground and interfering with your next major speed or strength workout.
The maximum volume I recommend for these extra workouts is 3 times per week. I
generally feel more comfortable prescribing them once or twice per week. On the
programs laid out earlier in this manual, conditioning can be implemented on Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You dont have to necessarily stick with the tempo
workouts Ive laid out, these are just examples. The combinations are endless but the
guidelines should stay the same. Remember the goal is to get some blood flowing
without getting overly intensive.

Part II- Getting in Game Shape, Improving Game Speed,
Agility, and Quickness

Intensive Conditioning Getting in Game Shape

If you've followed my guidelines thus far, you know you should focus on
building your speed, power, and strength during the off-season while you maintain some
basic fitness with extensive conditioning or "tempo" work. A few months prior to your
season youd begin introducing some specific conditioning work. This is the intensive
type of conditioning I was referring to earlier specifically designed to get you in game
shape. The focus on intensive conditioning is getting you ready to play. This is where
youd introduce more traditional high effort, puke inducing, conditioning methods such
as gassers and such.

In an ideal situation you'd have spent the bulk of your off-season dramatically
improving your strength, speed, power, and explosiveness. Thus, entering your pre-
season you'd have those qualities in place and would only need to maintain them.
Depending on the sport, I'd begin introducing intensive conditioning 2-3 months prior to
preseason workouts. The more aerobic the sport and the more out of shape you are, the
sooner you'd need to start specific conditioning. For a football player who needed to
report to preseason in awesome game shape I'd introduce them 6-8 weeks prior to camp.
For another football player who could use the preseason as a means to get in game shape
we might just introduce them a few weeks ahead of time. What about basketball players?
Well, the basketball player in all likelihood could simply play more basketball and play
himself into shape. :)

So, how do we go about introducing intensive conditioning? Does that mean
wed break out the boot camp mentality and engage in lots of intense 3-mile runs and the
like? Absolutely not! In fact, for sports like football, volleyball, soccer, and even
basketball, you can improve both the aerobic and anaerobic system through anaerobic
work. There is NO need for concentrated low intensity work such as the age old popular
long duration jogging. Therefore, for a football player, that would generally mean
sometime between mid-May and June we'd add in one day per week of intensive
anaerobic conditioning, such as sprints or agility drills, performed with short rest
intervals. During this time, we'd still be training to improve our general speed,
explosiveness and strength. Thus, the focus of our workout would stay the same. In July,
however, we'd increase the volume of weekly conditioning to 2-3 sessions and we'd then
look to maintain our strength, speed, and power via reductions in volume, while our
focus shifts towards improving game type conditioning. What follows is an example of a
weekly set-up for a football player during the last month of off-season:

July Mid-August (focus: Improve conditioning Maintain strength, speed, and

Mon: Upper body lifting, anaerobic conditioning using sprint intervals
Tues: Lower body lifting
Wed: Anaerobic conditioning using football agility drills
Thurs: Upper Body lifting
Friday: Off
Sat: Anaerobic conditioning

** For more information on the entire process of addressing off-season training needs with appropriate conditioning, I recommend
Eric Cresseys Ultimate Offseason Training Manual.

Examples of anaerobic conditioning methods include:

Agility drills: Perform maximum effort agility drills with short rest intervals. An
example might be a simple 40-yard shuttle drill where you sprint 10 yards, shuffle 10
yards, backpedal 10 yards, and sprint forward 10. Perform 6-10 sets per workout. Start
off with 40-second rest intervals and progress down to 15-20 second rest intervals.
Subtract 5 seconds rest per week. Any type of agility drill can easily be used as a
conditioning method. Others include a 10 yard backpedal into a 5-10-5 sprint.


Option A: Run 40-yard repeats at max (or near max) speed with short rest intervals of
30 seconds. Stop when you drop more than .5 seconds off your best time. Rest 3
minutes and repeat.

Option B: Use the same examples I gave for extensive intervals but increase the speed
and reduce the rest interval:

Example: + denotes 25 yard walk
set #1 100+100+100
set #2 100+200+100
set #3 200+100+200
set #4 100+200+100
set #5 100+100+100

Run each sprint at a fairly high effort. Rest 1:30 between each set subtracting 15 seconds
per workout until you're down to 45 seconds.

Improving Game Speed

I know I've spent this entire manual telling you how to get faster and boost your
sprinting speed, but now I wanna talk about using what you've learned to improve your
game speed. Game speed consists of physical qualities like linear speed, lateral speed,
agility, quickness, reaction time and overall athleticism. These physical attributes will
then be magnified by mental qualities like knowledge and attitude.

Unfortunately, I can't do a whole lot for your knowledge or attitude in your
chosen sport - that's up to you. In my opinion, attitude is best developed with confidence
and the way you become a confident athlete is by paying your dues and becoming a
student of your sport. If you're a football player that means knowing what the heck
you're doing on the football field and mastering the technique required of your position.
If you're a basketball player that means hours and hours of practice. The same goes for
any other sport. The greater the degree of mastery you have in your sport, the more
confidence you will have. Youll play faster because you will be able to react
instinctually instead of having to think about everything.

When you're in a high-pressure situation and the adrenaline is flowing you'll
instinctively tend to revert to the things that come to you instinctually. Ever heard of
accomplished martial artists getting whipped in bar fights against ordinary Joes? Unless
the black belt is the type who has a lot of actual street fighting experience most of the
time when he gets in a street fight the majority of his training will go out the window. If
he's lucky, he'll revert to 1 or 2 moves he feels most comfortable with that have become
part of his instinct. Its possible he'll forget EVERYTHING he ever learned in the dojo.
The same thing happens with athletes. Throw them into a high-pressure situation and
they'll revert to the few things that come to them instinctively. Part of becoming a great
athlete is expanding your instincts so that the things you do become 2nd nature. The way
you do that is through repetition, confidence, and plenty of exposure to game type

Im sure you could take Steve Nash and line him up against every other point
guard in the NBA and put them all through a battery of tests designed to evaluate their
athleticism - a sprint, agility drill, vertical jump, or what have you. If you were to do that
I guarantee Nash would finish last in just about every category. Yet Nash can PLAY the
game of basketball extremely fast because he is so in tune with what he's doing on the
court. The same goes for a guy like John Lynch in football. He's probably one of the
slowest safeties in the league but he plays extremely fast because he's such a student of
the game and knows exactly what hes doing on each and every play. Becoming a
student of your sport is up to you. What I can do is give you the knowledge you need to
improve your various physical qualities and hopefully you can put that together with your
ability to play your chosen sport and really become a game breaker.

Improving Quickness

First let's talk about quickness. Technically, quickness is the ability to move in
the absence of much external force and without any wind-up. How fast are your hands
and feet in simple unloaded movements? A person can be very quick but not really fast
in a sprinting sense, and vice versa. From a technical standpoint, there's a very strong
genetic component when it comes to being quick. As I mentioned earlier, take a group of
athletes and see how many times they can stand and tap their feet in place over a given
interval. Or see how many punches you can throw in a given time interval.
Measurements like those are good measurements of pure quickness. If you arent
naturally all that quick there's not a whole lot you can do about it - at least not if you're
referring to the technical definition of "quick".

However, in the real world, quickness is really just another name for reaction
time and first step explosiveness. Reaction time refers to how long it takes you to react
to a stimulus. Think of a sprinter reacting to the gun going off. The reaction range is
typically 0.2 to 0.3 seconds and is improvable around 10 to 20%. The younger and less
coordinated the athlete, the greater the potential for improvements. Probably the best real
world way you improve your reaction time is by mastering your sport Know whats
going on and be in the right position to make a play.

A form of over-speed training can also be of use for those that have access to it.
With this type of training you learn to react to things that move much faster than those
that occur in your sport. A baseball player might take batting practice while using a
special pitching machine that throws pitches at 130 to 150 miles per hour. His brain
would adapt to seeing the faster pitches. In turn, this would improve his ability to react to
a 90 to 100 mile an hour pitch. A NASCAR driver might use a special driver simulation
device that mimicks driving a race car at 200 plus miles per hour. This makes driving at
130 miles per hour seem slow and easy by comparison. You dont necessarily need a
special machine. For example, an offensive tackle who has bad reaction time and
continuously gets beat off the ball against defensive ends might practice pass protection
drills against speedier linebacker types. Their greater speed would improve his ability to
react to the slower defensive end.

The way you improve first step explosiveness is by boosting the same qualities
that make you fast and apply them to the movements in your sport. With all things being
equal, a fast athlete will always have an advantage over a slower athlete in first step
explosiveness. In other words, if you were a defensive back and you were playing in a
deep zone, who would you rather have catch the ball in front of you: The 5.2 second 40-
yard dash guy or the 4.2 guy? Case closed.

Next, let's talk about agility and overall athleticism.


Improving Agility

Agility and overall athleticism influence your ability to cut, change direction, stop
on a dime, accelerate, and do all those other things most people refer to when they refer
to game speed.

Fortunately, the same training principles and core motor abilities that improve
linear speed will also improve agility. The only other thing that needs to be incorporated
when seeking agility is the skill needed to properly carry out the agility movements
themselves. In other words, improvements in agility come about through the same core
qualities that bring about improvements in linear speed - those being improvements in
explosive power. The only factor that really separates the 2 is the application of your
speed and power. You must be able to apply your speed and power towards properly
carrying out the actual movements that you want to be agile on. Let's use a real world

Take an olympic 100-meter sprint champion, throw him on an NFL football field
as a cornerback, and ask him to cover receivers and move like a cornerback is supposed
to move. Even though he's obviously fast and athletic enough is he gonna be very good
at it? Probably not! He'll probably be stumbling all over the place and will likely find it
extremely difficult to carry out the moves of a cornerback. Yet give him a year or 2 to
practice and master the specific movements a defensive back needs and he'll probably be
pretty good at it, simply because he already has the core speed and quickness necessary to
do so. Let's use another example: Take 2 groups of 5 people and time them on a 20-yard
shuttle drill. Let's say neither one of these groups has ever done the shuttle before. All
you know is that one group averages a 4.5 second 40-yard dash and the other group
averages a 5.0 second 40-yard dash. Which group do you think will have the fastest 20-
yard shuttle times? Definitely the 4.5 group.

The best way to improve agility as it relates to your sport is to focus on
optimizing your motor abilities, such as explosive strength and reactivity, while
perfecting the no.c. no.c. no.c. no.c. required in your sport. If you were a defensive back you'd practice
covering receivers. If you were a running back youd practice running around tacklers.
If you're a basketball player practice driving to the hole or defending an opponent. You
obviously can't always do this year around in all sports, but providing you take the time
and recovery necessary to boost your general motor qualities (strength, explosiveness -
the same qualities that make you run faster), actually vi.ivin vi.ivin vi.ivin vi.ivin in your sport will v.v,. v.v,. v.v,. v.v,.
be the best way to improve your agility in a given sport. No amount of specific agility
DRILLS can match the real thing.

What About Agility Drills?

Having said that, the benefit of using agility drills is they allow you to duplicate
some of the movements that occur in your sport if you don't have the option of working
with a real live opponent, and, even if you do have live opponents to work with, they
allow you to zero in on a particular movement pattern. That's why football players go
through such a wide variety of drills during pre-season practices. Not only do they
practice against live opponents, but they also break down the specific moves and
movement patterns required of them and seek to improve those movements or isolated
parts of those movements.

When most of us think of agility drills we probably think of a course full of cones
or bags that we go out and run through in a pre-determined pattern. Drills like these are
called closed-loop drills. These can be helpful to make sure your body can carry out a
movement and they can also be effective as conditioning tools, but the BEST way to run
agility DRILLS is to utilize drills where you have to react to a signal or command in a
reactionary fashion. These are called open-loop drills. For example, a defensive back
might pack-pedal at the snap and break right or left depending upon a coaches signal.

If you feel you need specific agility and quickness drills keep the following points
in mind:

1. Just like the act of sprinting itself, once a given level of proficiency has been reached,
you DON'T need to spend all year out on your feet doing various drills. Don't let them
interfere with your improvement in more general motor qualities. In other words, if
you're a football player, the first few months of your off-season is a time to improve your
general motor qualities such as strength and power, and IS NOT the time you need to be
out in the heat running hours of conditioning and agility drills every day. The time for
agility drills is during the late off-season and pre-season. Use the off-season to improve
your strength and speed. Often the best way to get faster and more agile is to simply get
stronger overall. As a general rule of thumb, many athletes can see dramatic
improvements in both linear and lateral speed and agility without training these qualities
directly with traditional drills. This is obvious if you take a weak and scrawny athlete
and focus on strengthening his lower body for an entire off-season. Throw him back out
on the track and hes floating like never before and his mechanics are better then ever
before. Hes more explosive, quicker, and is 10 times more agile then before. He didnt
improve from performing drills, he improved by getting a bigger and more powerful

2. Generally speaking, during the off-season, unless an athlete is significantly deficient in
them, both speed work and lateral movement work (agility) sessions should be performed
only once or twice per week. Traditional speed and agility drills can be more valuable for
those athletes with favorable strength qualities, muscular balance, and dynamic
flexibility, but poor sprinting speed and agility. These athletes would want to engage in
some type of movement work a minimum of 3 days per week and often as frequently as 6
days per week.

3. Keep the distances and length per set specific to your sport. A football player would
run an assortment of drills 5-10 seconds long since that's the average length of a play.

4. When IMPROVEMENT in agility is a goal, take full recoveries between sets and
stop the workout prior to or as soon as your performance starts to decline. It is important
to allow complete or near-complete recovery between sets in all movement training.

5. If youre using agility drills as a form of conditioning work, disregard #4.

6. If the goal is to improve agility AND conditioning, start the workout off performing
high quality repetitions with full recovery where the focus in on improvement. Finish up
with the conditioning.

7. Always take a day off in between bouts of intense agility work.**

8. If you're going to mix linear speed with agility training, do the agility first.

9. Get creative with the drills. Grab some cones and make up obstacle courses or
whatever you wanna do. There are no shortage of agility drills out there.

10. Youngsters and those who struggle with heavy feet can benefit the most from
traditional closed loop agility type drills. These include things like agility ladders, dot
drills, hurdle drills, cone drills etc. They can also do them more frequently. (every day or
every other day)

11. More advanced athletes should use reactionary drills, where they have to react to a
signal or command.

**Byintense, Im referring to drills that incorporate a lot of explosiveness, knee bending, and stopping on a dime (deceleration). A
20-yard shuttle run would be an example of an intense agility drill. Agility ladders and dot drills would not considered intense since
there isnt much intense stopping and changing direction.

Sample Off-season workouts for football

What follows are examples of fairly detailed off-season workouts that I have used
with football players. Although I had a football player in mind when I wrote them, they
can be utilized by athletes in any sport requiring speed, strength, and size. Football is a
special sport because realistically, it can be just as much about bodybuilding as it is
performing. Yes I did say bodybuilding there. Football players not only have to be
faster and stronger every year, but they often gotta get significantly bigger too. How
many times have you heard a football coach say, Son, I want you at (fill in the blank
bodyweight) next year. With that in mind, what Im going to lay out next is a sample 12
week off-season program for football where the focus is not only on getting stronger,
faster, and more explosive, - but also a tad bigger too. ***

When a person has accumulated some training experience and has reached a point
where training all the major qualities with equal volumes throughout a training week no
longer works quite so well, that is the time when more focus addressing the deficiencies
of a given athlete will be the best course of action to take for increased performance. As I
mentioned earlier, if youre stronger then you are fast youll tend to improve athleticism
by focusing a bit more on your speed and explosiveness. If you are faster then you are
strong youll tend to improve by increasing your strength. But what if you need to get
bigger, stronger, and faster? Then you have to approach things a tad differently. The
following 12-week workouts include sample workouts for strength-dominant athletes
and workouts for speed-dominant athletes. Each 12-week workout is broken down into
three 4-week phases.

The main difference in the training of the speed dominant athlete and that of the
strength dominant athlete is the latter (strength dominant) needs to spend a bit more time
on his feet working on things related to his movement proficiency and general
explosiveness. The former (speed dominant) can focus more on pure strength and
hypertrophy work. Despite considerable differences in the structure of the following
programs between the 2 groups throughout the first 8 weeks, the final 4-week phase
appears quite similar, as both groups will be working towards some personal records in
various field tests. At the conclusion of the programs not only should athletes following
these workouts be bigger and stronger, but theyll hopefully finish up having set some
PRs in the 40, vertical jump, and agility drills.

In my opinion a football player should have his speed and explosiveness in place
just prior to the time when he starts implementing his conditioning work, which might be
early June or might be July. Assuming one could start base off-season training in January
and assuming theyd start conditioning in June, that would allow approximately 20 weeks
of off-season workouts. Ive given examples for 12 weeks here. For a 20-week off-
season a person might perform phase 1, 2, and 3 over twelve weeks then repeat phase 1
and phase 3 once more over the final 8 weeks. Someone with a slightly longer off-season
might have time to go through each phase twice. Remember, even though there is quite a
bit of individuality written into the programs these are just examples and cant be perfect
for everyone.

*** With the increased size aspect in mind, during phase I of the following workouts the most important thing an athlete can do is
make sure he takes in enough nutrition. The focus should really be on taking a no-holds barred attitude when it comes to tieing on the
feed bag and getting that scale weight up.


Strength Dominant Athlete: Phase I

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Sunday: Off

Monday: Lower Body
Single leg lateral line jump
(hop back and forth quickly
over a line)

Altitude drop jump into lunge
landing on balls of feet (use
box up to the height of your
best vertical jump)

3x 10 seconds

3 x 10

2 x 10

A) Snatch Grip Deadlift 3x5 4 x 3 4x2
3x3 (should
be easy)
B) DB Bulgarian Split Squat 2x6/leg 2x6 2x6 1 x 6
C1) Weighted Glute-Ham
Raise, Reverse Hyper, or leg
3x8 3x8 3x8 2x8 (easy)
C2) Decline leg raise 2x max reps 3x max reps 3 x max reps 3 x max reps

Tuesday: Rest day, Skill work
or tempo

Wednesday: Upper Body
Power Skipping into sprint

Single leg on box Jump (jumps
onto a box)
3x25 yards
skip/25 yards

4x25/25 yards

4 x 25/25

4 x 5
2 x 25/25

2 x 5
A1) Incline Press 3x 8 4 x 6 4 x 3
3x 3 (light
weight) -
should be
A2) Chest-Supported Row -
Pronated Grip
3x8 4x8 4x8 2x8 (easy)
B1) Incline trap raise 3x15/side 3x15/side 3x15/side 3x15/side
B2) Full Contact Twist 3x8/side 2x8/side 4x8/side 2x8/side
Optional beach work: 10
minutes biceps, triceps,
beach muscles

Strength Dominant Athlete: Phase I

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Thursday: Rest day, Skill
work, or tempo

Single-leg Lateral/medial Box
Jump (onto a box from the left
and from the right)

4x5/side 2 x 5/side
Lateral depth drop on toes
(step off box to the side and
land up on the balls of the feet)
(higher box)
4x8/side 2 x 8
A) Box Squat 6 x 2 at 60% 6x2 at 55% 6 x 2 at 50% 4 x 2 at 60%
B) Single Leg RDL 2x5/side 3x5 3x5 2x5
C) DB Step-up 2 x 6/side 2x6/side 2x6/side Eliminate
D) Side bridge hold 2 x 30s/side 3 x 30s/side 3 x 30s/side 2 x 30s/side

A1) Speed Bench Press Max
Reps in 10 seconds
3 sets at 65%
4 sets at 65% 4 sets at 65% 2 sets at 65%
A2) Close Grip Chin-up 3x5 4x5 4x5 2 x 5
B1) Incline Barbell front raise 3 x 6-10 3 x 6-10 3 x 6-10 2 x 6-10
C1) side cable external
3x12/side 3x12/side 3x12/side 2 x12/side
Optional Beach work: 10
minutes arms, delts etc.

Strength Dominant Athlete: Phase II

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Sunday: Off

Monday: Lower Body
Lateral Barrier Jump (knee high

Single leg triple jump (take 3
hops forward on one leg)

4 sets/leg

4 sets/leg

4 sets/leg
3 x 10

A) Low Bar Power Squat 4 x 3 5 x 2
5 x 1
(working up
to max single)
3x3 (should
be easy)
B) Glute Ham, Reverse Hyper, or
cable pull through
2x6 3x6 3x6 2x6 (easy)
C) Hanging knee raise 2 x max reps 2 x max reps 2 x max reps 2 x max reps

Tuesday: off day, skill work, or

Wednesday: Upper Body
Standing Knees to Chest Tuck
3x5 4x5 4x5 2 x 5
Lateral barrier jump + 10-yard
Sprint (jump over cone, chair or
other obstacle and immediately
sprint forward)
3 sets 4 sets 4 sets 2 x 5
A1) Barbell Floor Press 4 x 3 5 x 2 5 x 1 3 x 3 (easy)
B1) Flat DB Press 2 x 6 2 x 6 2 x 6
2 x 6 (easy
light weight)
B2) One-Arm DB Row 3x6/side 3x5/side 3x6/side
C1) High to low cable woodchop 2x10/side 3x10/side 3x10/side 2x10/side
Optional Beach Work: 10
minutes biceps, triceps, delts etc.

Strength DominantAthlete: Phase II

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Thursday: Off day, skill work, or

Friday: Lower Body
Single leg 4 star hop (hop around
in a square)

50 yard sprints at 80% max speed
4 x 20

3-4 sprint reps
4 x 20

4 x 20

2 x 20

A) Barbell Jump Squat
4 x 5 @ 30%
of 1RM squat
4x5 @ 25% 4x5@ 25% 3 x 5@15%
B) Dumbell reverse lunge (step-
back lunge)
2 x 5/side 3 x 5/side 3 x 5/side Eliminate
C) Cable Pull through, reverse
hyperextension, or glute-ham
2x10 3 x 10 3x10 2x10
D) V-sit 2 x max reps 2 x max reps 2 x max reps 2 x max reps
Saturday: Upper Body
A1) Seated semi-supinated DB
3x4 4x4 5x4 2x5
A2) (Weighted) Mid-Grip Pull-up 3x4 4x4 5x2 2 x 5 (easy)
B1) Prone Trap Raise 3x12 3x12 3x12 2x12
C1) Side raise lying in back
extension device
2 x max reps
per side
2 x max reps
per side
2 x max reps
per side
2 x max reps
per side
Optional 10 minutes beach work

Strength Dominant Athlete: Phase III

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Sunday: Off

Monday: Lower Body
20 yard dash

Depth jump for maximum height
- Find box height that maximizes
jump height.
Stop at first
sign of

4 x 3

4 x 3

4 x 3

4 x 3
A) Deadlift 2 x 3 3 x 2 2 x 2 at 80% eliminate
B) Peterson step-up (low box
step-up) use box approximately
mid-shin level in height use a
controlled 3-5 second eccentric
2 x 12-15/leg 3x 12-15/leg 2 x 12-15/leg eliminate
C1) Reactive Glute-Ham Raise
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
4 x max reps
in 10 seconds
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
C2) Cable pull-ins 2 x 15-20 3x 15-20 3x 15-20 2 x 15-20

Tuesday: off, skill work, or

Wednesday: Upper Body
Pro-Agility (5-10-5 Drill)
Stop at first
sign of drop-
Same same same
A1) Decline Bench Press 3x5 4x5 5 x 3 2x 5
B1) Chest supported row 3x8 4x6 4x8 2 x 8
B2) Decline Tricep extension 2x10 2x10 2x10 eliminate
C1) Face Pull 3x10 3x10 3x10 3x10
C2) Medium Cable Woodchop 2x10 2x10 3x10 2x10

Strength Dominant Athlete: Phase III

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Thursday: Rest, Skill work, or

Friday: Lower Body

40 yard dash
Stop at first
sign of
To first sign
of dropoff
To first sign
of drop-off
To first sign
of dropoff
A1) Squat
2 x 3 at 85-
3 x 2 at 85-
eliminate eliminate
A2) Single leg back extension 2x10 2x10 eliminate eliminate
Saturday: Upper Body
Depth jump for maximum height
- Find box height that maximizes
jump height.
Stop at first
sign of
To first sign
of drop-off
To first sign
of drop-off
To first sign
of drop-off
A1) Push Press 3 x 5 4 x 4 5 x 3 2 x 4 (easy)
A2) Wide Grip Sternum Pullup 3 x max reps 4x max reps 4 x max reps
2 x max reps
B1) Incline DB Lateral 3x12 3x12 3x12 2 x 12
B2) Cable external rotation 3x12 3x12 3x12 2x10

Speed Dominant Athlete: Phase I

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Sunday: Off

Monday: Lower Body
Depth drop landing on balls of
feet (use box equaling best
vertical jump height)

A) Snatch Grip Deadlift
4 x 4

4 x 5
4 x 4

4 x 4
4 x 4

3 x 1
2 x 3
2 x 4

3x 3 (easy)
B) DB Bulgarian Split Squat 2x8/side 3x8/side 3x8/side
C1) Glute-Ham Raise, Reverse
hyper, or Leg curl
4x8 3x8 4x8 2x8 (easy)
C2) Decline Leg raise 3x12 3x12 3x12 3x12

Tuesday: Off day, Skill work
or tempo (your choice)

Wednesday: Upper Body -
A1) Neutral Grip DB Bench
3x8 4x8 4x8 2x8 (easy)
A2) Chest-Supported Row -
Pronated Grip
3x8 4x8 4x8 2x8 (easy)
B1) Single arm cable lateral 3x12/side 3x12/side 3x12/side 2x12/side
B2) Prone Trap Raise 3x12-15 3x12-15 3x12-15 2x12-15
C) Decline Russian twist with
2x 15-20 3 x 15-20 3 x 15-20 2 x 15-20
Optional 10 minutes beach
work (biceps, triceps, etc.)


Speed Dominant Athlete: Phase I

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Thursday: Off day, skill
work, or tempo

Friday: Lower Body
Depth Drop into Lunge Stance
(landing on balls of feet)

A) Front Squat
4 x 4/side

4 x 3
4 x 4/side

5 x 2
4 x 4/side

4 x 1
2 x 4/side

3 x 2 (easy)
B) Russian Good morning
(close stance arched back good
2 x 6 3x5 3 x 6 2x5
C) Side raise lying in back
extension device
2 x max reps/
2 x max
2 x max
2 x max

Saturday: Upper Body
A1) Bench Press - max reps at
bodyweight (as many reps as
possible with bodyweight)
2 sets 3 sets 4 sets 2 sets
A2) Bodyweight pull-ups
max reps with bodyweight
2 sets 3 sets 4 sets 2 sets
B1) Bicep exercise of choice 3 x 8-10 3 x 8-10 3 x 8-10 3 x 8-10
B2) Tricep exercise of choice 3 x 8-10 3 x 8-10 3 x 8-10 3 x 8-10
C1) Side lying DB external
2 x 12-15 2 x 12-15 2 x 12-15 2 x 12-15

Speed Dominant Athlete: Phase II

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Sunday: Off

Monday: Lower Body
Single leg backwards low depth
drop landing on ball of foot

A) Power Squat
4 x 4/side

3 x 5/ 1 x 15-
4 x 4/side

3 x 5/1 x 15-
4 x 4/side

3 x 5
2 x 4/side

3 x 3 (easy)
B) Stiff-Legged Deadlift 2x6 3x6 3 x 6 2x6 (easy)
C) Full Contact twist 2x12 2x12 3x12 2x12

Tuesday: off day, skill work, or

Wednesday: Upper Body
A) Bench Press (Wks. 1,2)
Barbell Floor Press (Wks. 3,4)
4 x 3 5-6 x 1-2 3 x 2/ 3 x 3
B1) Incline barbell front raise 3x8 4x8 4x8 2x8 (easy)
B2) One-Arm DB Row 2x6/side 3x6/side 3x6/side
C1) Pulldown cable crunch 3x15 3x15 3 x 15 2 x 15
Optional 10 minutes beach work
(biceps, triceps, etc.)

Speed Dominant Athlete: Phase II

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Thursday: Off day, skill work, or

Friday: Lower Body
Single Leg low backwards depth
drop landing on ball of foot

A) Speed Deadlift
4 x 4/side

4 x 3 at 70%
4 x 4/side

4 x 3 at 70%
4 x 4/side

4 x 3 at 70%
2 x 4/side

B) Reverse Lunge (step back
2 x5 /leg 2 x 5/leg 2 x 5/leg 2x5/leg
C1) Cable Pull-Through 2x12 3x12 3x12 2x12
C2) Weighted Swiss ball crunch 2x10 3x10 3x10 2x10

Saturday: Upper Body
A1) Semi-Supinated DB
Overhead press
3 x 5 4 x 5 4 x 4
2 x 5 (easy
A2) (Weighted) Mid-Grip Pull-up 3x4 4x4 1 x 3, 2 x 4
2 x 5 (easy
C1) Prone Trap Raise 3x12 3x12 3x12 2x12
C2) Hanging leg raise 2 x max reps 2 x max reps 2 x max reps 2 x max reps
Optional 10 minutes beach work

Speed Dominant Athlete: Phase III

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Sunday: Off

Monday: Lower Body
20-yard dash

Depth Jump for maximum height
(use box that maximizes jump
Stop at first
sign of
drop-off use
full recoveries

4 x 3

4 x 3

4 x 3

4 x 3
A) Deadlift 2 x 3 3 x 2
2 x 2 at 80-
B) Peterson step-up (low box
2 x 12-15/leg 2 x 12-15/leg 2 x 12-15/leg 2 x 12-15/leg
C1) Reactive Glute-Ham Raise
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
2 x max reps
in 10 seconds
C2) Cable leg raises 2 x 15-20 3x 15-20 3x 15-20 2 x 15-20

Tuesday: off day, skill work, or

Wednesday: Upper Body
Pro-Agility (5-10-5 Drill)
Stop at first
sign of
Same same same
A1) Decline Bench Press 3x5 4x4 4x3 2x 5
A2) Chest Supported row 3x8 4x6 4x8 2 x 8
B1) Decline Tricep extension 2x10 2x10 2x10 eliminate
B2) Medium Cable Woodchop 2x10 2x10 3x10 2x10

Speed Dominant Athlete: Phase III

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Thursday: Off day, skill work,
or tempo

Friday: Lower Body

40 yard dash
Stop at first
sign of
To first sign
To first sign
To first sign
A1) Squat
2x3 at 85-
3 x 3 at 85-
eliminate eliminate
A2) Single leg back extension 2x10 2x10 eliminate eliminate
Saturday: Upper Body
Depth Jump for maximum height
- Find box height that maximizes
jump height.
To first sign
of drop-off
To first sign
of drop-off
To first sign
of drop-off
To first sign
of drop-off
A1) Push Press 3 x 5 4 x 5 5 x 3 3 x 8 (easy)
A2) Wide Grip Seated Row 3 x 8 4x 6 4 x 6 3x6 (easy)
B1) Incline DB Lateral 3x12 3x12 3x12 3 x 12
B2) Cable external rotation 3x12 3x12 3x12 3x10

Training For Track

What about training for competitive sprinting? How would you go about
implementing a plan for a sprinter?

Well, just follow the same basic principles and address your deficiencies as an
athlete. Build your speed and acceleration over short distances then carry that out over
longer distances. I find a lot of sprinters get carried away thinking they have to follow
very elaborate models. In my observation, most sprinters spend too much time on the
track and perform an excessive amount of running in general. The result is many that
Ive worked with tend to be chronically over-reached. Ive yet to see a sprinter who
didnt make good results scaling back on overall volume and putting in more quality
work. That usually means a reduction in conditioning and tempo work is a good thing.

Sample Programs For Track

Here is how you might set up a sprinters workout for a strength deficient athlete:

Phase I GPP 4-8 weeks Get In Shape/Hypertrophy
Exercise and Day Volume Comments
Short Sprints 10s and 20s up
to 10 reps each
Add 5 meters per
week to each sprint.
Walk back recovery
Squat 4 sets of 8
Row 4 sets of 8
Bench 4 sets of 8
Leg curl or Glute
4 sets of 8
Tuesday- Off day,
tempo, extensive
Up to 1500 meters
running Add up to
250 meters per week
not surpassing 3000
Short Sprints 20s and 40s up
to 10 reps each
Walk back recovery
Deadlift 4 sets of 5
Pullup 4 sets of 8
Dip 4 sets of 8
Thursday- Off day,
tempo, extensive
Up to 1500 meters
running Add up to
250 meters per week
not surpassing 3000
Friday: Same As Monday Same As Monday
Saturday: Same as Tuesday
and Thursday
Same as Tuesday
and Thursday

Phase II Max Strength 4-8 weeks
Exercise and
Week 1 Week
Week 3 Week 4 Comments
Starts, 20s and
Stop Prior to
drop-off in
Same Same Same Do these with full
recoveries Perform
from various starts
blocks etc.
Squat 4 x 3 5 x 2 5 x 1
(not to
3 x 3 at
80% 1rm

Glute Ham 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5
Pullup 4 x 5 5 x 5 5 x 4 3 x 3

Bench 4 x 5 5 x 5 5 x 4 3 x 3

Tuesday: Off
day, tempo,
1500-2000 meters total
tempo These are also
a training option on
Thursday and Saturday.
If you perform them, do
them 1 or 2 days per
week, but not 3.
60s or flying
Stop when
time declines
Same Same Eliminate Do these with full
Optional 15-20
minutes easy
upper body

Thursday: Same as

30s Stop when
time declines
Same Same Same
Snatch Grip
3 x 3 4 x 2 5 x 1 3 x 2

DB Bulgarian
split squat
2 x 5/leg Same Same Eliminate
Row 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5
DB Bench
3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5
Saturday Same as
Tuesday and

Phase III Competition Phase

Day and Exercise Volume Comments
Flying 20s Stop when time

Squat 3 x 3 at 80-90%
Bench 3 x 3 at 85-90%
Row 3 x 3 at 85-90%
Tuesday: Off day
30s Stop prior to time

Thursday: Extensive interval
Keep volume and intensity
Friday: Off day
Saturday: Competition

Heres what a plan might look like for a speed deficient athlete

Phase I GPP 4-8 weeks Get In Shape/Strength
Exercise and Day Volume Comments
Short Sprints 10s and 20s up
to 10 reps each
Add 5 meters per
week to each sprint.
Walk back recovery
Squat 4 sets of 5
Row 4 sets of 8
Bench 4 sets of 8
Leg curl or Glute
4 sets of 5
Tuesday- Off day,
tempo, or extensive
Up to 1500 meters
running Add up to
250 meters per week
not surpassing 3000
Short Sprints 20s and 40s up
to 10 reps each
Walk back recovery
Deadlift 4 sets of 3
Pullup 4 sets of 8
Dip 4 sets of 8
Thursday- Off day,
tempo, extensive
Up to 1500 meters
running Add up to
intervals 250 meters per week
not surpassing 3000
Friday: Same As Monday Same As Monday
Saturday: Same as Tuesday
and Thursday
Same as Tuesday
and Thursday

Phase II Max Strength and Power 4-8 weeks
Exercise and
Starts, 20s or

Depth Jump
Stop prior to
time declining

3 reps per set -
Do one set of
depth jumps in
between each
set of sprints
Same Same Same Do these with full
recoveries Perform
from various starts
blocks etc. Use
medium height box on
depth jumps about 18
Box Squat 5 x 2 at 60% Same Same Same
Glute Ham 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5
Pullup 4 x 5 5 x 5 5 x 4 3 x 3

Bench 4 x 5 5 x 5 5 x 4 3 x 3

Tuesday: Off
day, or optional
tempo, extensive
1500-2000 meters total
tempo These are also
a training option on
Thursday and Saturday.
If you perform them,
pick 1 or 2 days per
week, but not 3.
60s Stop when
time declines
Same Same Eliminate Do these with full
Optional 15-20
minutes easy
upper body work

Thursday: Same as


Depth Jump
Stop when
time declines

4 x 3
Same Same Same

Use box about 18
inches high

Jump Shrug or
Snatch Pull
3 x 3 4 x 2 5 x 1 3 x 2

Row 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5
DB Bench Press 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5 3 x 5
Saturday Same as
Tuesday and

Phase III Competition Phase

Day and Exercise Volume Comments
Flying 20s Stop when time

Speed Squat 3 x 3 at 70% Go down under control
explode on the way up
Bench 3 x 3 at 85-90%
Row 3 x 3 at 85-90%
Tuesday: Off day
30s Stop prior to time

Thursday: Optional Extensive
interval circuits
Keep volume and intensity low
Friday: Off day
Saturday: Competition


To review, building great speed and athleticism is just a matter of implementing the
following basic principles:

1. Establish efficient movement patterns and coordination (learn to move fluidly on
your feet, drive from the hips, and control your body efficiently)
2. Establish or maintaining baseline levels of general fitness
3. Get and/or keep yourself lean
4. Establish good mobility
5. Establish baseline levels of strength
6. Identify whether you are stronger then you are fast, or faster then you are strong.
7. Focus on your weak points.
8. Get out and let the horses run!

Or, (since I know you aren't tired of hearing this yet), if we were to look at this from
the same perspective as if we were building a racecar, what we're really doing is this:

1. Making sure we invest in good tires to get our car down the road. (getting good feet)
2. Making sure we invest in a good frame
3. Making sure we have a big enough motor to get us down the road. (getting strong and
powerful in the hips)
4. Making sure we take care of our motor and keep all moving parts well lubricated.
(establishing and maintaining proper mobility)
5. Determining whether we should invest in a bigger motor, or whether we would be best
served to modify our motor to get the car faster.
6. Taking the time to make the necessary modifications.
7. Have fun, take our car out to the track, and turn it loose!

When you really boil it down to the sheer nuts and bolts, getting faster or more
explosive really just involves 2 very simple points:

A: Get strong and increase your ability to exert force.

B: Do enough running, mobility work, and other movement work to either maintain or
improve the efficiency and proficiency of your movements.

If you take nothing else from this manual I hope you remember those 2 very simple

In conclusion, creating a speedy, fluid, and agile athlete is a relatively simple process.
Hopefully, with this information, Ive been able to give you a solid road map to work
from. Building athleticism is not easy and does require a lot of hard work, but providing
youre willing to work hard, consistent success is there for the taking.


Q: I have a 14-year old son who seems to lack strength and movement efficiency.
Can you give me an example of workout you would set him up on?

A: You might want to go check out my training templates article included here under
Appendix B.

Here is an example of a weekly phase Ive used for an athlete of that age.


Dynamic warmup
Lateral single leg hops in place - 2-3 x 15-20 reps (or 5-10 seconds)
Single leg on-box jumps- 3 sets of 3 reps forward and to each side
20-yard accelerations - 5-8 reps
Squat- 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
Glute ham raise or leg curl- 4 sets x 6-8 reps


Dynamic warmup
Low squat hops in place- 2-3 x 15-20 reps
Single leg hop in place - 2-3 x 15-20 reps
Deadlift- 2-3 x 3 reps
Dumbell Split Squat- 2-3 x 6-8


Dynamic warmup
4 square hops - 2-3 sets x 20 seconds
Knees to chest jumps- 3-4 sets x 8-15 reps
20-yard sprints - 5-8 reps
Squat - 3-5 sets x 5-8 reps
Glute-ham raise or leg curl- 4 sets x 6-8 reps

Add in some upper body movements such as dips, bench presses, pull-ups, and rows, and
thats really all hed need. You could actually cut the workout down to 2 days per week
and be just fine. Realistically, he really wouldnt even need to do as much sprinting as I
gave in this example. You could that down by 50% and hed do fine.

Q: You've talked about the importance of running through the hips and the toes
but what about the various muscles involved like the calves? I've heard some people
say they're totally unimportant and others say that they are the secret key to
unlocking athletic potential. Is calf strength a limiting factor towards being fast,
agile, and moving efficiently? Should a person do specific drills for the calves or are
they over-rated?

A: The importance of the calves is more along the lines of their function and not
necessarily their strength. Their main purpose is to control the feet and transfer forces
from the larger and stronger hip, hamstring, and quadriceps into the ground. You build
function in the calves by learning proper movement patterns and developing the ability to
become light on your feet. If you don't become well coordinated on your feet at an early
age you may have a propensity to become heavy-footed unless you correct that.
Obviously, if you have 2 broken ankles or 2 flat tires on your car you ain't going
anywhere in a hurry! Therefore it's really just a movement efficiency issue.

Strength can be a factor for some people. If youre not strong enough to stride forward at
an easy pace on the balls of your feet, or bounce up and down on one foot without your
heel striking, you could probably stand to incorporate some calf raise variations, but that
probably wont be an issue for most people. Drive by a playground and watch little kids
move. Pay attention and youll see plenty of 6 and 8 year olds move smoother on their
feet then a lot of adults. They don't move better because they're stronger in the calves,
they move better because they're more fluid on their feet. In other words, they
CONTROL their feet, ankles, and calves better. So, performing a multitude of specific
drills and engaging in lots of strength work just for the calves is usually not needed, but
establishing proper movement efficiency is. The calves will usually get as strong as they
need to get just by virtue of being involved in all the activities that an athlete participates
in. So, if you're not already, simply work on getting light on your feet and get to the
point where you can move efficiently. How do you do that? Well, get up off your butt
and stop playing so much x-box and get away from the computer for one thing! Get
outside and move! All the assorted plyo, agility, and even sprint drills are good for that
purpose. Jump rope, hopscotch, tag, dodgeball, you name it. If needed, probably the best
drill for developing specific calf (plantar flexor) power, is dropping off a box and landing
up on the balls of your feet.

Q: You talked about the importance of using the off-season to focus on core
neuromuscular qualities like strength and minimizing sport and conditioning while
minimizing anything that interferes with that. You used the example of basketball
players that play too much. Does that mean youre saying an athlete should not
participate in their sport?

A: Im not saying to ignore everything related to the sport but a lot of people go way
overboard. A game or 2 each week aint gonna kill a basketball player but 2 hour games
every day will. I would normally recommend basketball players focus more on their skill
work. That includes shooting, one-on-one play etc. Karl Malone didnt play basketball
AT ALL during the off-season and it never affected him in a negative way. A receiver in
football might practice running some routes and catching passes a few days per week. A
soccer player would get out and mess around with soccer related ball drills. No need to
get totally away from everything, but you wanna cut down on the hardcore conditioning.

Q: You're saying that if my goal was to run faster and the testing indicates that I
need to learn to better express my strength that all I really would need to do is get
out and focus more on sprinting? I wouldn't need to necessarily do any plyometrics,
explosive weight training etc? All I would really need to do is sprint?

A: Yes that's pretty much spot on. If you were to do nothing except get out and run
sprints at a high intensity 2-3 days per week you could get good results without adding
anything else. Having said that, you might get slightly better results engaging in a bit
more specific explosive work like jump squats and various plyometric type drills which
increase the magnitude of tension of specific weak areas, movements, or muscles. For
example, when simply jumping from one leg to the other the dynamic characteristics of
the push-off are greater than the dynamic characteristics involved with running.
Therefore, jumps like these and other similar drills can be an excellent form of power
training for a sprinter.

Another beneficial thing to do would be to incorporate at least enough heavy weight
training to maintain your strength. But if in doubt keep things simple. Ive said before
that a person can get just about as fast as theyll ever need to be using a total of only 3
exercises. Those exercises are squats, glute ham raises, and sprints. Or deadlifts, split
squats, and sprints.

Q: Why do you recommend approaching things in phases instead of using the
conjugate periodization and hitting everything at once? You recommend a
strength-dominant phase, explosive-dominant phase etc. Isnt this just basic linear
periodization? Isnt it better to focus on all qualities so you dont lose any of them?
A: There is often quite a bit of confusion as to what conjugate periodization is so let me
clarify that. A lot of people think true conjugate periodization is where you train all the
necessary strength qualities at the same time without getting away from any of them. For
example, you'd train maximum strength, reactive strength, explosive strength, and
endurance with equal volumes during the same training week so as to address every
quality. But thats not really true.
There are essentially two main systems of organizing long-term training:
A: The concurrent system
B: The conjugate sequence system.
The concurrent system involves the simultaneous training of several motor abilities, such
as strength, speed, and endurance, over the same period of time, with the intention of
developing all of them simultaneously. Sound familiar? Although research has
corroborated the effectiveness of this system, the subjects used in these studies were
generally conducted on athletes of lower qualification. While the negatives of the
concurrent system are not apparent with less advanced athletes, they become very
noticeable with elite athletes. It produces only average results in higher level athletes
simply because, when you try to train everything at the same time, you limit the amount
that you can focus on any given quality. Advanced athletes tend to need more focus on a
given quality in order to improve that quality.
To create a more powerful training effect in advanced athletes it is better to use intense
phases with a singular focus and to arrange these phases in an order that produces a sum
greater then it's parts. This is precisely the purpose of the conjugate system.
The conjugate sequence system involves successively introducing into the training
program specific phases, each of which has a progressively stronger training effect, and
sequencing them in a way that creates favorable conditions to grasp a greater net effect of
all the training loads.
The conjugate sequence is characterized by a concentrated focus on developing
individual specific motor abilities (strength, speed, strength endurance etc.), each of
which is confined largely to a given period.
So each phase builds off the next and because of the concentration used, each phase has
delayed effects, which carry over into the next phase. To give you an example, for
someone in a speed dominant sport the sequence of phases would look something like
Gpp (4-6 weeks---->Strength-(4-12 weeks)---->explosive strength (4-12 weeks)
Gpp builds a base of basic fitness by using a higher volume of low intensity work. This
leads into a strength phase, which uses a high volume of strength loading. This leads into
a shock phase where the focus is on displaying strength. During this phase, the total
amount of work is lower but the intensity is higher. Not only will the body be adapting
positively to the shock loading itself, but it will also be super-compensating positively
from the previous phase of high volume strength work, as fatigue is allowed do dissipate.
So, as youre entering an explosive oriented phase you get the delayed transformation
effect of the previous strength work, therefore you're getting stronger, faster, and more
explosive at the same time.
It should be noted that reversing the order of the training sequence will not always
produce the same summation of training effects. It's also worth noting that some phases
can be lengthened, that's just a general outline. Simple enough!
There was an old Soviet study done pertaining to the vertical jump that really helps
elucidate this topic. What they did was take 4 groups of athletes and had each group
perform one of 4 different types of training for 4 weeks each over a total of 16 weeks.
All 4 groups hit each type of training but in varying sequences. The various phases
looked like this:
A: Basic low intensity jumps
B: Heavy weight training (squats and assorted lifts)
C: Lighter explosive weight training and jumps with weights
D: Intense plyometric training (depth jumps).
One group performed D for 4 weeks followed by B for 4 weeks, followed by C for 4
weeks, followed by A for 4 weeks.
Another group performed B, followed by D, followed by A, followed by C, for 4 weeks
Another group performed A, B, C, and D all at the same time.
Another group performed A, followed by B, followed by C, followed by D, for 4 weeks
At the conclusion of the study, it was found that the group that performed A, B, C, and D
all at the same time got inferior results compared to the other groups.
It was found that whenever any group happened to be performing D they got a quick
boost in vertical jumping ability, but stagnated just as quickly. In other words, the group
that performed depth jumps in the second 4-week period did improve their vertical jump
during that period, but failed to improve through the final two 4 week phases.
The group that performed A, followed by B, followed by C, followed by D got the best
results overall, and the results improved linearly nice and smooth through the entire
study. It makes sense if you think about it.
They started off with basic low intensity jumps, which allowed the athletes to establish
basic movement efficiency and ingrain basic motor patterns.
They followed that up with heavy weight training, which allowed them to build up their
relative strength levels.
They followed that up with explosive weight training and jumps with weights, which
allowed them to better display the strength they had built.
They followed that up with depth jumps, which provided a means to further intensify the
display of strength in a high intensity manner.
So: movement efficiency, strength, strength expression.
Now does that mean when you're focusing on one quality that you should totally avoid
the other qualities?? No! It just means that those other qualities would be maintained with
less volume and intensity. If you were a speed athlete and you were in more of a strength
focused phase, your speed workouts might consist of performing low intensity technical
drills and running one day per week. If you were in a speed phase your strength work
might consist of lifting done as infrequently as once per week consisting of 3 x 3 at 80-
85% for a few movements.
In summary, beginner and low-level intermediate athletes do fine working on all qualities
simultaneously, but more advanced athletes will need more focus.
Q: I have a question about what you said regarding there not being much of a need
to engage in explosive weight room work like cleans etc. I love the hang power
clean. Are you saying that improving the clean doesnt also improve explosivness in
other activities?

Just like any other explosive movement, the clean can help bridge the gap between total
strength and total useable strength, if that is an area lacking. However, by itself it isnt a
miracle exercise. I love performing hang cleans myself, but a good clean is really a
demonstration or indicator of explosiveness, just like a fast sprint and a good vertical
jump are good demonstrations of explosiveness. Let's just say for the sake of argument
that the clean correlates perfectly with your on-field explosiveness (running and jumping
etc.) So, any improvements you make to your clean will be transferred into your running
speed. You'd obviously want to get your clean poundages as high as possible right? With
that being said, what is the best way to get your clean up to 315 pounds? Can the guy
with a 200-pound squat build his clean up to 315 pounds by just performing cleans and
associated lifts? No. Can the guy with a 300-pound squat clean 315? No. Can the guy
who practices cleans every day of his life, yet only squats 300 pounds, clean as much as
the 700 pound squatting powerlifter who comes into the gym and does cleans for the first
time in his life? No. My point is this: How much you can clean is highly dependent on
how strong you are overall and cleans dont really make you stronger overall. Regardless
of how good your technique is on cleans and how much you practice them, the only way
you're gonna clean 315 is if you get your overall body strength up to the point where you
are capable of at least a ~400 pound squat and 400 pound deadlift. Once you've
mastered the technique in the lift and learned to express your strength in the lift, the only
way to continue driving your clean poundages up is to get stronger overall.

The clean is really about 1/3 technique, 1/3 explosiveness, and 1/3 strength. Initially,
clean poundages will increase as you master the correct technique. Once you've mastered
the proper technique, you'll continue to make some gains as you better learn to express
your strength, or become more explosive in the exercise. If you're the guy who squats 500
pounds and only cleans 175, you obviously have a lot of room for improvement. You'd
probably be able to take your clean all the way up to 315 by doing nothing but cleans.
But if you're the guy who squats 300 pounds and cleans 225, you'd probably never get
any better at cleans by just practicing cleans. At some point, you'd have to pay your dues
in the power rack getting your strength up on basic movements like squats and deadlifts
so that youd have more raw strength to express.

Now, let's look at a sprint the same way we would the clean. It's a demonstration of
explosiveness. Since actually practicing the clean is the best way to learn to express your
strength in the clean, wouldn't it make sense that practicing variations of the sprint (and
things closely related to that like plyometrics), would be the best way to learn to express
your strength in the sprint? There is a lot of specifity involved with improvements in
speed-strength movements and the carryover from one activity to the next is fairly small.
If you couldn't express your strength very good in the sprint, what makes you think you'd
best improve upon that by engaging in cleans?

Improvements in the sprint are just like improvements in the clean. Initially you'll
improve as you master the correct technique. You'll continue to improve as you are
better able to express your strength in the sprint. If you're the 175 pound guy who squats
500 and only runs a 5.2 40 yard dash, you will probably have a lot of room for
improvement. But if you're the 175 pound guy who only squats 250 and already runs a
4.55 forty yard dash, you're probably not gonna get much faster by just sprinting. At
some point, just like the clean, you're gonna have to pay your dues with the heavy iron
and get your strength up so that you have more raw horsepower to tap into.

Now, let's assume that you already spend a significant amount of time in the weight room
getting stronger overall. Let's also assume that you spend a fair amount of time
performing a nice assortment of sprint, movement, and plyo work. So, in the weight
room you're driving your strength and baseline levels of horsepower up. On the field,
you're better learning to express that strength in the most direct way possible - by
engaging in the very things that you're trying to improve (sprinting), and very similar
activities, like jumping. Since you're already addressing your baseline strength, and
you're already directly addressing your ability to express strength in the sprints, what are
cleans gonna give you that you're not already getting? I hope that makes sense. Its not
that cleans will hurt you by any means, I like them too and think theyre fun, but its not
like you need them.

Having said all that, the best utility for the cleans and other explosive weight room
movements would be for someone like I mentioned above who had a 500 pound squat (or
whatever), and slow running times. His maximum strength is already there and it need
not be a big focal point, so, instead of just getting him stronger in the weight room, we
could focus on getting him to express his strength better in all his activities, including the
weight room. He could use lots of speedier type exercises like cleans, speed box squats,
and jump squats while also working on getting more explosive in field activities. Where
cleans and related exercises would REALLY be more beneficial is for this same strong
but slow type of guy who also, for whatever reason, isnt able to get out and engage in
much specific sprint, movement, and plyo work. They wouldnt be as effective as the
specific sprint, movement, and plyo work, but would at least allow him to train his
nervous system to produce faster contractions with some type of accelerative emphasis.

One other good utility for the clean and associated movements is this: Assuming that one
has pretty good technique in the clean, it can also be used as a pretty good gauge to
ensure that you're building useable strength, or strength that you can use in a fairly high-
velocity manner. In other words, let's assume that I determine that a person that can clean
75% of his best back squat is doing a pretty good job utilizing the raw strength that he
has. So, assuming that technique is good, a person squatting 200 pounds should be able
to clean 150, while a person squatting 400 pounds should be able to clean 300. Let's say
you have an athlete that squats 400 pounds but only cleans 200. From that information,
we know that he's not able to utilize his strength in a high velocity specific manner very
effectively, so he would best work on bridging the gap between his strength and useable
strength. In other words, instead of continually trying to push up his squat weight, he'd
be best to focus on more explosive oriented work in his training. In contrast, the guy
squatting 400 and cleaning 300 is already doing a pretty good job using the strength he
has, and, assuming his field related tests didnt show any explosive deficiencies, hed
know that in order to improve he could just get stronger overall.

Q: Can you give some examples of what sort've templates you would use for
combine preparation for a strength dominant and speed dominant athlete

A: You have to keep in mind that most people don't typically have a ton of time to
prepare for a combine and there is a lot of technique involved in the various tests that
must be addressed. For the speed deficient athlete, you might use the sled as the major
strength movement. For the strength deficient athlete, I'd have just one heavy lower body
session per week.

The templates might look something like this:

Speed Deficient Athlete

MONDAY dynamic warmup, vertical jump, and 40 yard dash (Initially focus on
technique for the start and work your way out each week)

TUESDAY Heavy upper body lifting

WEDNESDAY Dynamic warm-up, 3-cone, 20-yard shuttle, heavy sled marching (use
heavy sled)


FRIDAY Lighter upper body strength training (225 test for reps)

SATURDAY Dynamic warm-up, Broad jump, Resisted sled sprints (use light sled),
alternated with normal sprints (focus on distances between 20 and 40 yards)


When regulating volume of the various movement work, use the drop-off method, or stop
the workouts with any performance drop-off

Strength Deficient Athlete

MONDAY - Dynamic warm-up 40-yard dash technique work, Heavy Upper body
strength training (For the 40 yard dash, Initially focus on the starts and work your way
out each week)

TUESDAY Mobility drills, vertical jump & broad jump

WEDNESDAY - Dynamic warm-up, pro-agility & 3-cone

THURSDAY - Lighter upper body strength training

FRIDAY - Dynamic warm-up, 40-yard dash

SATURDAY Heavy lower body strength training


Q: How do you feel about popular sport specific training methods and specialized
implements like bosu balls, unstable object training etc?

Let's start off with a definition of sport-specific. A truly sport specific exercise must:

A: Duplicate the exact movement witnessed in certain actions of the sports skill

B: The exercise must involve the same type of muscular contraction used in the skill

C: Develop strength and flexibility in the same range of motion (ROM) as the actual skill.

As an example, alternating bounds duplicate the extension witnessed in the sprint stride
over the same range of motion. They also duplicate the type of contraction found in the
sprint. The difference is, the magnitude of force and tension in the bound upon both
landing and toe-off is greater, which can provide a positive training effect to the
extension and plant that occurs during the acceleration phase of a sprint.

Classifying Exercises

There are basically 3 classifications of exercise along the general to specific continuum.

General strength exercises - These exercises are necessary to develop general muscle
strength (force component of power) and do not need to duplicate sporting tasks. (Squats,
front squats, deadlifts etc.) These exercises are heavy and slow in nature thus do not
replicate the exact demands of sport and power events. They are, however, specific to the
sport of powerlifting. Anything that increases general strength could be considered a
general strength exercise. Exercises that best impact general strength are the best general
strength exercises.

Special strength exercises - These exercises attempt to convert general strength to power
but are still "strength" oriented. Most explosive oriented loaded lifts and movements fit in
this category. Some examples include: Olympic lifts, medicine ball tosses, jump squats,
heavier sled towing, and various kettlebell swings.

Specific strength exercises- These exercises attempt to provide power improvement in a
way which is very specific to the required technique of an athlete. Examples of such
exercises would include: Unloaded and lightly loaded plyometric exercises, sprint drills,
and towing a very lightly loaded sled. The most specific strength exercise for any given
movement is the actual movement skill itself. Thus, the most specific exercise for a
sprinter is a sprint. The most specific exercise for a boxer is a punch.

A loaded specific strength exercise should not be loaded to the extent that an athlete's
technique is compromised much at all. So, someone using loaded sprints as a specific
strength exercise would not use a load that causes his sprint times to drop off by more
than ~10%. In contrast, someone using loaded sprints as a special strength exercise could
use more weight as he's seeking more of a general effect on explosiveness. He would not
need to worry so much about the load interfering with his technique in the sprint.

Exercises typically are described as either general or sport-specific. However, there is a
range along which all exercises fall. It's probably more accurate to describe exercises as
either more or less specific in relation to one another. Where a particular exercise falls on
this continuum depends upon how well it meets the criteria for a specific movement for a
particular sport.

So What is Sport Specific Again?

Based on that information, it should be obvious that unless you're a skateboarder, surfer,
or trapeze artist, most unstable implements and exercises are not really sport-specific at
all! Wobble boards, bosu balls and the like would be general training movements - just
not very potent general training movements. This is due to the lighter loads they
inherently entail.

The Recipe

To improve athletic performance, general strength exercises should be used in the initial
stages to build a base. The goal of these movements is to stimulate and strengthen the
same muscles involved in the sports skill. Once a strength base is in place, exercises that
are truly specialized (sport-specific) can be incorporated to zero in on targeted
weaknesses involved in the sports skill or to help enhance the transformation of general
strength into specific strength. In this way, maximal strength is developed initially and
then used to enhance explosive strength that can be incorporated into the sport action.

I think there is a time and place for exercises in every category depending on the situation
of a given athlete or coach, however, there's also not exactly anything wrong with taking
the straight line approach.

The Straight Line Approach

The straight-line approach would entail taking the most direct approach to boosting up
the general strength (lift heavy and get stronger in basic movements), and engage in and
hone the technique of the most specific strength exercise. Youd practice the specific
movement you're trying to improve in order improve the capacity to express strength in
that movement, - whether it's sprinting, jumping or whatever. With this approach you
have both ends covered. Although simple, this can work well because a lot of people
already do plenty of sport-specific exercise just by virtue of playing their sport. In fact,
many people are apt to regress by partaking in an excessive volume of sport specific
work while neglecting general supportive work.

Additionally, research comparing groups of people who use a very multifaceted approach
to development to those who use the simple straight-line approach to development, don't
tend to demonstrate many advantages for the multi-faceted approach. In other words. let's
say we take 2 groups of sprinters:

Group A: Squats heavy, engages in explosive lifts (cleans or jump squats etc.), pulls
loaded sleds, engages in plyometrics, and sprints.

Group B: Just squats heavy and runs sprints.

Despite the more holistic and multifaceted approach implemented with the group A, you
don't tend to see a consistent variance in improvements between the 2 groups.

The ability to properly administer the more multifaceted approach takes more knowledge
and skill. Ideally, you'd individually evaluate and assign target exercises based upon
individual needs.
Q: I heard you ran a sub 4.3 second 40-yard dash. What routine did you use to get
that fast?
A: In high school the fastest 40-yard dash I timed was 4.9. That was without any specific
sprint training. I was, however, a late bloomer and was very weak so I probably did have
quite a bit of latent ability. I started training and lifting fairly seriously around age 18-19
to prepare for martial arts. I rarely ran sprints but one day at the age of 21 I decided to
run a timed 40 and clocked a 4.8. So, between the ages of 18-21 I actually improved my
times despite not running any sprints during that time span AT ALL. At about that time I
decided to make a deliberate attempt to try and improve my 40 and in my ignorance I
came up with the workout Im getting ready to show you. I used this workout on 3
different occassions. The first time I followed it was when I was 21. My 40 went from
4.8 to 4.6 within a month. The next time I followed it was at age 24. This time I got my
40 down to 4.4 seconds. A year later I used it again and on 2 different occassions ran a
4.27. That is a handheld time taken off video from the first movement so not quite as fast
as a legit electronic time. Unfortunately, at the time I didnt know how to start from a 3-
pt stance so just ran like a wide receiver out of a 2 pt. stance. It wouldve been nice to
see how fast I wouldve run if I knew what I do now but oh well. The routine is not
perfect but got the job done, which is what counts. Here it is:
Workout 1:
Squats: work up to 3rm with as heavy a weight as possible
Reverse hypers: 2 sets x 12-15 reps with as heavy a weight as possible (the first time I
went through the workout at age 21 the workout reverse hypers were not a common
exercise so I did leg curls instead).
Repeat workout every 4th to 5th day
Workout 2:
40 yard sprints: Warm-up and go for PRs Stop the workout as soon as it was obvious I
wasnt gonna improve on my times for the day. (this would generally mean Id run 5 to 7
total sprints. Id typically hit my best efforts on the 3
attempt.) Id perform workout
two 2 days after workout 1.
Id just alternate those 2 workouts back and forth. So I might perform workout 1 on a
Monday, workout 2 on a Wednesday, workout 1 again on Saturday, workout 2 the next
Monday and so forth. The only other activities incorporated were a couple of upper body
workouts. I also played some half court 3-on-3 basketball a couple of days per week.
That was my "tempo" work. I'd do a dynamic warm-up before each workout and quite a
bit of mobility work each and every day (which I still do). That's about it.
Q: How long should it take to see results in speed and explosiveness?
A: It really depends on the level of athlete. If youre really slow and lack coordination
anything you do will improve your speed and it will improve very quickly. Thats why
its not uncommon for high school athletes to go to these combine camps and get a .2 to
.3 improvement in 40-yard dash in less than a week. However, if youre advanced, it
might take 6 to 8 weeks training 5 days per week to see any significant speed gain. Also,
keep in mind sometimes you have to take the time to bring up indirect qualities and then
apply those gains to speed. For example, an athlete might spend 6 to 12 weeks bringing
up his strength levels and not see any speed improvement in speed until he applies those
gains with a block of speed and explosive oriented training.
Q: How much does the upper body contribute to running speed?
A: The arms are what drive the legs so it does serve some importance, however, I dont
think its nearly as important to support the volume some speed-seeking athletes and
sprinters train their upper body with. Many sprinters like to do a lot of upper body work
because they want to look good and brag about their strength. Thats the truth.
Assuming you can knock out a set of 10 or more pull-ups and bench press your
bodyweight, youre probably strong enough. A fast athlete will tend to be strong in his
entire body and will have a strong upper body just on account of being strong all over.
Core lower body movements like squats and deadlifts will also give you some degree of
strength in the upper body because they have global effects on your nervous system.
Now, if youre a football player or even a basketball player, sure you want to be strong in
your upper body. But that doesnt mean you need to have a 500-pound bench press in
order to run fast.

Appendix A:

The Simpleton's Guide To Speed Training
By: Kelly Baggett

Warning: The following contains profanity that some may find offensive. If
you don't like it, that's too bad. It is meant to be informative as well as
hopefully at least mildly entertaining.

Spend a few minutes listening to people and gurus talk about speed training
nowadays and it shouldn't be too hard to understand why the average person can
leave a speed training conversation with a billion more questions then they had when
they started. With so many gimmicks and all kinds of routines it's no wonder. What
should you be doing if you wanna get faster? You can open up a catalog and order
special speed training chutes, shoes, vests, rubber bands, ladders, and god knows
what else all promising to get you blazing. Chances are there's a local SAQ (speed,
agility, and quickness) center somewhere near you that promises to get you
blazingly fast for only $xxxx per month with 3 weekly sessions consisting of about 2
hours of running drills, stretches, plyometrics, sprints, and dynamic mobility work. If
that doesn't suit your needs you can always go to the other side of town where they
have a special high speed treadmill they can hook you up to while they're trained
technicians analyze your stride. Of course if your broke you can always enter a
school or college track program and take your chances letting a part time marathon
runner set you up on a sprint routine to get you blazing. If that wont work you can
always call upon your local "functional" training guru who can get you bouncing down
the track on a bosu ball while simultaneously doing the splits and holding a

There certainly aren't a shortage of options for the person interested in getting
faster. Whether any of those options are worth a damn is another thing altogether.

A Rant

So anyway, because of all the apparent confusion and the fact that I'm facing a 3rd
consecutive day of being snowed in here in NW Arkansas and have built up a decent
amount of aggression, I thought Id put together this "rant that summarizes my
thoughts on speed training. Before I get into all the details let me attach a couple of
qualifications to this material. First of all, this information is set up to meet what I
call my "golden rule. That rule means that when I write this I am taking the
approach that I am talking to an average 16 year old teenager and I have about 20
minutes to explain the entire topic to him or her in a way in which he understands.
If I cant do that I am either talking out of my ass or overcomplicating things.
Second of all, the information here applies to developing acceleration and top speed
for athletes involved mainly in team sports and is less applicable to sprinters. The
type of "speed training Im talking about here is applicable to distances of up to
about 50 or 60 yards. The general concepts apply yet I do not talk about speed
endurance or any of the other complexities of competitive sprinting necessary in an
event like the 100-meter dash. I will basically give you the complete "big picture" of
what I think athletes should be trying to accomplish to get faster and then I'll give
you a few specific examples.

Learn Your Game and Be An Athlete

Now the rest of this article might seem to contradict what I'm about to say but I'm
gonna say it anyway. I know a lot of people reading this are gonna be football
players who want to get faster and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm gonna talk
about getting fast. Yet before I begin, I want to say that I believe a lot of people
would be better off paying more attention to their game instead of obsessing so
much about their "40 times" and all these other "measures" of athletic ability. If you
want to be a football player then be a football player. Learn the ins and outs of the
game of football and learn to play your position with technique. There are 2 speeds
in the game of football. Fast enough and too slow. Either you're fast enough to play
or you aren't. Same goes for size and height. Either you're big and tall enough to
play at a certain level or you're not. At each level the minimum requirements
increase. Yet as long as you meet the minimums for speed, height, and weight, the
rest is about football.

There are damn good running backs in the NFL like Priest Holmes who ran 4.75 over
40 yards and other guys that ran 4.2s. That's a pretty wide range. There are
"smallish" all pro cornerbacks running "slow" 4.65s. Any improvements you can
make in your football playing technique and knowledge will improve your game
speed just as much if not more then improving your straight ahead sprinters speed
will. That's how a guy like John Lynch can be a fine football player despite being slow
as molasses. The 4.8 guy can succeed for the same reason the 75 year old 10th
degree black belt can often kick the shit out of the athletic 25 year old first degree
black belt. Is he as fast? Nope. Is he as quick? Nope. Is he as strong? Nope. But
he's smarter and knows what the hell he's doing. I mention this become I am
amazed at the number of people who waste so much time, money, and effort
focusing on combines and the like thinking speed by itself will magically get them a
call by some recruiter. Most of the time it won't.

40 times - overhyped?? Naaaa

Like Most Other Things - the media creates hype. I've come to the conclusion that
the extreme obsession about 40 times and all this is largely a media creation so that
people who don't know shit about football will have something to argue about.
Scouts wanna see "football" players with physical skills not just guys who are fast.
Nobody ever talks about the "football" specific drills at these combines yet they are
just if not more-so important as the events themselves. None are as important as
game film. If you don't have game film 99% of the time nobody will give you a 2nd
look, regardless of how fast you can run. And I'll tell you right now if you're a
relatively unknown guy or a guy on the "cusp" and you're looking to advance to the
next level, scouts don't wanna spend 18 hours going through all your team game
films looking for the plays you're involved in so you better help them out. If you ask
me, providing you can meet the minimum requirements for your position, a simple
highlight video is 50 times more important then a combine performance. If you
don't have a highlight video then you better get one and do whatever it takes to get

What Does Science Say?

Alright, now that I've finished that little rant and probably pissed a few people off
lets get back to the subject, which is getting faster.

Let's start by taking a look at what science has to say on the subject:

Science says that running Speed consists of 2 very simple things:

A: The rate at which you take steps as you run (stride rate).

B: The amount of ground you cover with each stride (stride length)

Its really not any more complicated then that. Any improvement brought about to
your sprinting speed consists of improving one or both of those factors. Whether
you improve them at the saq center, high speed treadmills, soviet secrets training,
or whatever is irrelevant. Those are the only 2 ways to improve running speed.

Runners that take more frequent steps should run faster than if they took steps less
frequently. If those runners decided to increase the distance between each step
(Stride Length), their speed should also increase. A combination of the two, longer
distance between steps and more frequent steps would be a third alternative to
increasing speed.

Taken a step further, the three components that affect stride rate and stride length
are actually this:

1. How often you contact the ground

2. How much muscular force you can deliver during ground contact of each stride

3. How much ground contact time is available to deliver that force.

Force Per Stride Is King

Now, the one thing that really stands out when you analyze the science is that the
predominant factor in running faster for teenage and adult athletes is the ability to
generate and transmit additional muscular force to the ground. If you take a look out
on the playground and watch the kindergardener's run a race, the kids that take
steps the fastest win. But that's because none of them are really strong enough to
propel their body with much force. For more mature athletes, the speed at which
the legs move is not that important rather the amount of force per stride is king. As
Ive said many times, anyone can lie on their back or stand in place and cycle their
legs as fast as the fastest men in the world at 5 strides per second. Try it if you
dont believe me. Along the same lines, there are people who can move their legs
extremely fast in the absence of resistance such as kicking or shuffling their feet in
place, yet they may not run fast. That's because sprinting requires a resistance
component in the form of your own bodyweight. With each step you take you also
have to move about 90% of your bodyweight.

Therefore, we can say that the speed the legs move is not all that important. Faster
running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces in relationship to
mass. Greater ground forces in relationship to mass. What the hell does that
mean? Well, it's very simple really. Ground force in relationship to mass is the
amount of force you put into the ground relative to the weight of your own body. Put
more force into the ground and you cover more ground.

When you cover more ground per stride you increase your stride length. Watch
how many steps fast guys take over a given distance when they run. Watch how
many steps slow guys take. At 59 and probably a 32 inch inseam a Steve Smith will
cover 10 yards in 3.5 steps. Moonshine Jones ran a 4.3 over 40 yards and probably
took about 14 steps the entire race. Does this mean you should "intentionally" try to
lengthen your stride as you run? No, if you do you will actually create a braking
effect and slow down. Your legs have to stay under your center of gravity. If you
overstride you destroy that. Improvements in stride length have to come naturally
via increases in lower body strength and explosiveness not through intentionally
manipulating your technique by over-striding. Getting more force into the ground
also helps optimize your stride rate as you will "react" off the ground and get into
your next step more efficiently, - Kind've like the harder you throw a tennis ball
against a wall the faster it comes back to you.

Getting Faster - As simple as Putting a More Powerful Motor In
a Car

The stronger you are relative to your bodyweight the more force you're gonna put
into the ground and the faster you're gonna go. This is so obvious it should be a
rule. In one study Olympic weightlifters were damn near as fast as sprinters out to
30 meters. They didnt get that speed from sprinting they got it from their strength.
Having stronger legs in general give you more potential that you can transfer into
running. General leg strengthening exercises include exercises like squats, deadlifts,
lunges, etc. Anything that strengthens the muscles of the glutes, quads, hamstrings,
and spinal erectors is fair game. The squat is probably the most popular exercise as
researchers like Mike Stone have found relative strength in the squat to correlate
best to performance in the 40 yard dash: How Strong is Strong Enough

So a 150 lb guy squatting 300 lbs will always run faster then a 200 lb guy
squatting 300 lbs?

Most of the time but not always. Limb lengths, tendons, bones, neurological
differences, and other factors affect how efficiently force gets delivered into the
ground and expressed by different individuals. A guy with longer limbs, smaller
joints, longer tendons, and better reflexes naturally shares an advantage. Therefore,
say you compare Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Say Moss squats 250 and Owens
400. Owens should blow him away in a sprint right? Not necessarily. Moss has a
much more efficient structure for sprinting so what force he can deliver gets
delivered and "expressed" much more efficiently. The only way a guy like Owens is
gonna beat Moss is if he makes up for that with far superior horsepower. Its like the
difference between a pit bull and a greyhound. If the pit bull is gonna beat a
greyhound in a race he has to have a much more powerful motor. He obviously does,
but that still is not enough for him to overcome the structural advantages
demonstrated by the greyhound. Now, compare Ben Johnson to Carl Lewis. In this
instance, the Pit Bull type body structure of Johnson was able to overcome the
perfect lines and greyhound type structural characteristics of Lewis, due largely to
Johnson's 600 lb squat. Unfavorable leverages can sometimes be overcome
with favorable strength levels.

The Very Simple Approach

Now, what's important to note is that, for any given individual, an increase in general
strength at a given bodyweight ALMOST ALWAYS transfers into increased speed
providing the technique in the sprint remains the same. So, a 150 pound guy
squatting 400 lbs will ALWAYS run faster then that same 150 lb guy squatting 200
lbs, with the caveat that his technique in the sprint remains equal. Now I know
some of you are thinking, "Well my friend Billy Bob went of to college and he trained
like a bodybuilder. He got stronger but also slower. Yeah, but did he maintain his
ability to sprint? If all he did was drink beer and turn into a fat ass and didnt do a
single sprint at all during that same span of time what can you expect?

So for the simplest answer to speed development you will ever hear, "It's just a
matter of getting as strong as you can at a given bodyweight while maintaining or
improving the efficiency of the sprinting movement itself".

We'll cover the "efficiency of the sprint" part here in a minute but first let's see if
you're strong enough to run fast. The Bigger-Faster-Stronger organization isn't
perfect and I don't necessarily agree with all their recommendations but they have
some very good charts here that illustrate specific strength standards for males and
females of different heights and weights:

Men's and Women's strength standards

How is Strength Per Pound of Bodyweight Best Achieved?

Now, let's go back to strength per unit of body weight. How is that best achieved?
Hmmm.Does that mean in an effort to optimize your "weight to strength ratio" you
need to diet like an anorexic and sit around scared to death of any increases in
bodyweight or muscle mass increases? No, because, a muscle can only become so
strong until the only way to make it stronger is to make it bigger. A bigger muscle is
a potentially stronger muscle. Most importantly, until you are a very advanced
trainee, an increase in muscular bodyweight comes with a disproportionate
increase in strength. Thats why sprinters like Mo Green, Ben Johnson, Lynford
Christie etc. were big and strong and why you dont see many scrawny 130 pound
outfits winning any type of sprint races. Until youve been training for a number of
years you will tend to gain 30% strength for every 10% increase in muscle

Say you currently weigh 170 and squat 300. Let's say you increase your
bodyweight by 17 lbs. Well, your squat should go up to a minimum of 390. That
means even though your bodyweight went up your strength per lb or bodyweight, or
relative strength, went up as well. That's why on paper you would think the
fastest men in the world and the fastest football players would be very, very small
guys. There certainly isn't a shortage of people weighing less then 140 lbs in this
world. Well, not if you eliminate the US anyway. But in the real world the fastest
guys often weigh 190-200 lbs or more.

What about maintaining or improving the efficiency of the
sprint itself? How about mechanics, video analysis, running
technique, drills, and all that? What do I need to be doing to
improve that?

Short answer: Just Run!
With the exception of the sprint start and the ability to maintain top speed over
longer distances, accelerating to top speed is easy. Video analysis can be useful to
see how a person is moving, yet most of the talk about sprint mechanics, form, and
various complicated drills can for the most part all be thrown together into a big
heaping pile of bullshit. Lets talk about why. Neurological and technical
improvements in a movement come about from one of 2 factors. These are:

1. Intermuscular coordination- Which is coordination between different
muscle groups involved in a movement that allow you to carry out the

2. Intramuscular coordination- Increased firing and coordination within a
given muscle which allows more force to be put out by a muscle in a
particular movement.

Don't worry you don't have to memorize those terms just understand the
concepts. Whenever a skill or movement is first being learned intermuscular
coordination dominates as the individual learns how to properly coordinate all the
muscles involved in the task. Imagine a baby learning to walk or crawl around.
He/she trips, falls down, loses balance, etc. as he/she learns to control her body
and all the various muscles involved. This is intramuscular coordination. The
same thing happens as kids learn to run. Their legs and feet flop around and
they look discombobulated when they run. Yet, as they become more proficient
at the skill they eventually reach a point where they get the various muscle
groups coordinated together and learn to run with some effectiveness. They
continue to get faster as they gain coordination, yet eventually they reach a point
where their coordination is about as good as it's gonna get and at that point they
won't get faster unless they either get bigger or stronger. It is at this point that
intramuscular coordination, or horsepower, begins to dominate.

Use Frequency To Learn, - Use Intensity to Enhance What's

With regards to training, during the initial stages of movement mastery,
intermuscular coordination requires more frequency and practice to fully master.
Thats why any new skill set whether its crawling, walking, running, squatting or
even taking a dump initially requires more practice. Even in lifting, beginning
lifters make the best progress hitting a given lift 3 times per week because they
have to learn the lift. Thats why those SAQ type of centers are in my opinion
much more valid options for athletes under the age of around 14 or so. They go
and run their ass off 3 times per week and if nothing else they learn how to get
coordinated and move correctly.

Now, as an individual becomes proficient at the basic movement pattern and
learns how to coordinate the various muscle groups involved in the movement
pattern the pattern becomes hardwired in the brain and no longer "forgotten as
easily so frequency becomes less important.

At this point the movement becomes somewhat ingrained. Proper performance of
the movement itself no longer becomes such an issue, thus further performance
improvements result from increasing the horsepower behind the muscles involved
in the particular movement. For that purpose, intensity is more important then
frequency. This is why intermediate and advanced strength athletes have been
found to get their best strength training gains on a 2 x per week schedule while
beginners require at least 3. The "intensity" part of Improving
intramuscular coordination is all about improving on previous
performances. Endless drills carried out in a low intensity fashion that may
have helped to "coordinate" the body when first learning a movement, are no
longer as important. In the case of the sprints, neither is sprinting just to sprint.
Once a skill is mastered or performed correctly frequency is no longer near as
important. Thats why a 15 or 16 year old can for the most part sit on his ass the
entire summer and come back in august and test faster in the 40 yard dash.
Hes growing a lot thus getting bigger and stronger and the gains he made in
those areas over the course of 1 summer make up for any losses in his sprinting
technique since the movement was virtually ingrained in him early on.

Easy Movements vs Difficult Movements

It also helps if we talk about gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross
movements are whole body movements that don't require much skill, technique,
or thinking. They're for the most part instinctive and easy. I suppose you could
also call these "primal" movement patterns. Imagine you're out walking in the
woods and a bear comes out nowhere and jumps your ass. What are you gonna
do? Well, if you're like most people you're gonna run. Now, whenever you're
running from that bear do you think to yourself, "ok I have to tilt my hips up and
cross my right ankle over the knee and extend my hips fully at a 70 degree angle
and make sure my torso is in line with my feet and all this bullshit, or are you
just gonna run? Well, if you plan on surviving, I hope you just run! Now, there
are also fine movement skills. These are more difficult and require more control
and skill. Threading a needle is a fine motor skill and so is something like a
twisting single leg back flip off a bosu ball that requires much more skill and body
control to execute. Moves like sprinting, walking and running are gross motor
skills thus shouldn't and dont require much conscious voluntary input once

The importance of all of this is that technical improvements in gross motor skills
are limited because theres not a whole lot to complicate or screw up in the first
place. How complicated is sprinting really? Put one foot in front of the other with
as much force and speed as possible. Duh!. It's a natural gross motor pattern
that people have been doing since they were kids. Improvements mainly come
about via improvements in the muscular horsepower behind the movement. For
that reason if you take a random sample of athletes who haven't been doing any
sprint work and you do nothing else but take them out and run them on the track
a couple of times per week most will quickly progress in their times for all of
about 3 sessions but after that little happens because they've made the majority
of technical improvements they're gonna make during that time span!

Sprinting Is Not That Hard!

How long have you been running? How long did it take you to run correctly?
Assuming you at some point learned how to run as an adolescent and didnt set
on your butt for 12 hours a day playing Nintendo, chances are you already went
through the "intermuscular coordination stage. Thats not a given however (as
lazy as kids are today it's not a given that people even know how to run
correctly) but assuming it is, How much running do you think it'll take you to
maintain your current ability? In general, it takes 1/3 the frequency and
volume to maintain a skill as it does to learn a skill, providing the
intensity is maintained. So if 3 times per week were necessary to optimize a
movement pattern then the proficiency of that movement can be maintained with
around 1 exposure per week. For an athlete that exposure can come from any
sprinting that you do..sprinting out on a football field to catch a pass, sprinting
down the basketball court, or any other athletic endeavor.

Now, what if youre one of these people who either:

A: Did play Nintendo for 12 hours per day through your adolescent years and
thus never learned how to sprint


B: Have some other excuse such as extreme height, extreme growth spurts, or
something else that affected your ability to learn how to run properly?

Well, if that describes you, you're gonna need more frequency until you learn
how to control your body properly. The general most basic recommendation is
get out and run with enough frequency that you become somewhat proficient at
it. SAQ places and the like are wonderful for this type of athlete. Basically you
just need to get out and run a minimum of 3 times per week or whatever. Now,
how can you tell if you fit in this group? Well, if you feel uncoordinated when you
run, can't run without tripping over your feet, or if people can your hear coming
from a mile away due to the sounds of your feet slapping the surface then you're
probably in that group. Spend 3-6 months or so learning how to control your
body then follow the rest of my advice.

How About Everybody Else?

Ok now, getting back to the point, with the exception of those who really need to
build up coordination in the sprint itself (and the technique for the the start which
can be a bit more technical), a persons sprinting speed and their technique in the
sprint are more of a "display" of existing horsepower then it a display of their
sprinting "skill".

So youre saying that once a baseline level of technique is learned that theres
nothing that can be done to really change a persons sprinting technique?

No, Im saying function follows form. Physical changes drive the technical changes in
the sprint.

If there are problems with a sprinters stride (other then performance of the start
which does require some technique), it's generally due to problems with his body
and not with the technique of the sprint itself. Work on the cause of the problem
and not the problem itself. These can be problems such as lack of strength, lack of
muscle balance, and in some instances lack of flexibility. It is usually NOT due to
lack of exposure to a certain drill or lack of sprint work.

For example, one problem everyone demonstrates until they develop the strength is
a lack of hip extension. They never fully straighten and drive off their plant leg
because they're not strong enough to do so. This "technical problem" is "cured by
strengthening the hip extensors and naturally improves to a large extent as people
get older. Other people have feet that collapse when they run which can be caused
by the aforementioned lack of coordination, Bad Feet, weakness in the entire lower
body, or a host of foot related problems such as pronation or supination of the feet.
Other people have muscle balance issues the most common being there front half of
the body overpowers the back half of their body. These people will often be strong
but tend to run flat footed with excessive knee bend. Those problems are talked
about here: http://www.higher-faster-sports.com/SquatsandSpeed.html

The basic tenet is change the body to change the function. Faulty technique can be
made up for by correcting the muscular issues and does not require a bunch of
specific drills.

Think of it like this. A boat with a 5 horsepower motor running at full speed doesn't
have enough "oomph" to get up on top of the water and glide. Yet, if you put a 150
horsepower motor in that same boat and run it at full speed it'll be up gliding on top
of the water almost flying. The boat itself didn't change the only thing that changed
was the strength powering it. Technical changes in the sprint tend to be the same

What about Flexibility?

The extreme devotion to flexibility hype is in my opinion also overblown as well
because the sprint stride really does not challenge the limits of a person's range of
motion. Now, let me qualify that statement. Flexibility training is like working on a
car. It should be done to fix and/or prevent certain problems. Other then your
regularly scheduled maintenance like oil changes, do you send your car to the
mechanic for the hell of it?? Probably not. You send the car to the mechanic when
something isn't running right. Hardcore stretching is the same way. It's effective to
prevent and/or correct identified problems. Im not against stretching to correct
and or prevent certain problems what I mainly want to address is the notion that
everybody needs to stretch EVERYTHING ALL the time, that everyone who sprints
needs a $200 per week flexibility guru to put them on some elaborate stretching plan
that has to be done for 2 hours per day, and the notion that anybody who doesnt
stretch for hours on end is gonna suck as a sprinter.

In a sprint your legs are basically cycling directly under you and pumping up and
down like a piston. Stand in place and slowly mimick a sprinting action. Do you feel
any tightness or restrictions?? Probably not. Then why all the focus on flexibility for
sprinting? Probably because gurus need something to talk about, something to
complicate and thats all theyve been told from the gurus they learned from.

Put it this way, flexibility is no important then muscular strength or weakness.

For a better understanding of what flexibility training can and cant do please read
this: flexibility

Now, a simple dynamic warm-up is not something I really consider flexibility
"training but more of a warm-up which Im all for. A cat flexing its back after a nap
is also a dynamic warm-up as are any other movements that slightly exaggerate the
movements encountered in your sport. Whether you warm-up with a dynamic warm-
up, lower intensity sprints, or whatever is probably not worth arguing about.

Setting Up a Routine

Alright, now I wanna talk about setting up a routine. There are no secrets in the
speed training world that I can see. Ive looked at most of the types of training
plans and most of them are variations of the same thing. Which is usually just go out
and do way too much and run tired all the time and hope you either have a natural
talent who can survive the training or time your taper/peak correctly. Many training
businesses have no choice but to do this because their athletes are paying them
good money to be trained. For example, take a look at many of these combine prep
places and speed development places. An athlete is gonna have a hard time paying
$600-$2000 per week if theyre only training 3-4 hours per week. So the common
theme is to bring a guy in and train him 4 hours per day at least 5 days per week for
a month and then give him a week off and hope he recovers. Variations of that
approach can work particularly for advanced athletes as I alluded to towards the end
of this article: http://www.higher-faster-sports.com/PlannedOvertraining.html
However, most athletes are not near to the point where they need something so

Speed Training Requires Quality

Sprinting is a high intensity event, far more akin to something like powerlifting or
shotputting. Quality should take precedence over quantity. Everytime you sprint
with the intention of getting faster, you should sprint at a high intensity and rest fully
between reps. If you run in a state of fatigue you may improve your conditioning,
but you will not improve your speed. A speed training session should be terminated
as soon as your performance (speed) on any given rep is slower then the previous,
or 300 total yards, whichever comes first. Distances should be kept under 60 yards,
unless you're running interval conditioning drills.

Every time you hit the track you should "want" to be out there. The same goes for
lifting. If you don't feel like being at the track or in the gym chances are you're not
gonna make much progress when you are. Likewise, if you feel like sprinting or
lifting chances are you're gonna do pretty good when you do.

Sprinting in the absence of fatigue keeps you much fresher. This is also important for
relative beginners, the last thing you want to do is run in a constant state of fatigue
and ingrain bad habits.

Many people look at what I recommend and go "That's not enough training" "That's
suitable for a punk but not for a high level athlete." Which is probably why most of
the people I see training to improve their sprint speed are over-trained and almost
always make good progress when they switch to something more along the lines of
what I recommend.

General Recommendation

The best "general" recommendation I can make is do enough sprinting to maintain
efficiency in the act of sprinting itself and spend the majority of the time focusing on
getting more power into the ground relative to the size of the body via putting a
bigger and more powerful motor in the car (your body particularly your legs).

For some people the training is really important while for others the dinner table is
very important. Remember, the key issue is getting more power into the ground
relative to bodyweight - That might mean body-fat loss for some, that might mean
muscle and strength gain for others, while for others (most) it might mean both
body-fat loss as well as muscle and strength gain, while for others it might mean
improving the ability to display their existing strength levels (explosiveness).
Anybody who sprints once per week should be able to maintain efficiency in the
movement itself though.

A Sample Training Schedule

Basically Ive found that simple strength focused cycles alternated with explosive
oriented cycles to give very good results for all but the most advanced athletes. The
basic tenet is you really focus on increasing general strength in one phase while you
really focus on expressing that strength (or transferring it to the field) in the
following phase. In each phase you do enough to maintain the qualities that you're
not focusing on. When this quits working then you can try something a little more
elaborate. A very basic scheme would involve this:

Basic Setup

Get to the gym every Monday and Friday or Monday and Thursday. On one day
knock out sets of 3-5 in the squat followed by some Glute Hams for sets of 6-8. On
the other day knock out sets of 6-8 in the bulgarian split squat followed by some
more glute hams. Maybe do some light squats as well just to keep the feel of the
movement. Some people "forget" how to do a movement if they don't hit it at least
twice a week. Every time you hit Monday's workout try to put more weight on the
bar. Do this until you can throw around at least twice your bodyweight for reps.
Prior to your workouts on Monday and Friday do a low volume of some garden
variety plyometric drills such as a few sets of lateral jumps, low squat hops and low
box depth jumps or whatever else you want. On 1 of those days you might practice
some starts out to 10-20 yards. On one of those days, get out and run some sprints
out to 40-60 yards for no more then 300 yards total. You might do a few 20's, a few
40's and call it a day.

For volume youd do sets of 4-5 sets for squats and GHR. 2-3 sets for split squats.

So basically itd look something like this:

Easy warmup-
Plyo drills- 2-3 sets of whatever
Starts - 5-10 reps or however many you feel like doing
Squat 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps (try to add weight to the bar each week)
Glute Hams 4-5 sets of 5-10 reps


Easy warm-up
Sprints 30-50 yards- go until you start to slow down.
Light squats - 3-4 sets x 3-5 reps with 10-20% less weight then Mondays workout
Bulgarian split squat- 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps/leg
Glute hams - 4-5 sets of 5-10 reps

Follow that routine there until your strength gains start to stagnate. If youre a
beginner that might be a year or longer. If youre more advanced it might be 3-4
weeks. It just depends on you. If youre less then an advanced trainee youll likely
find your speed will increase along with your strength on that routine. Regardless,
once you have built up your strength you will now have a bigger motor in your car
and can then shift to an explosive oriented phase, where you will focus on modifying
that now larger motor to get the most out of it.

Explosive Setup

Now for a sample explosive type phase keep the same basic schedule in place.
Monday and Thursday or Monday and Friday etc. On one day do some starts and
some shorter sprints out to 40 yards. Follow this up with some explosive oriented
weight room work such as wave loaded jump squats for sets of 5-10 reps for about
6-8 sets of squats. The squat weights will vary between 10-40% of your max. Do
one set with more weight followed by one set with lighter weight and alternate back
and forth until you've done all 8 sets. Either that or you can do something like speed
oriented box squats with 50-70% of your max. Any sort've explosive work is fine. In
this phase, you could even eliminate weight room work altogether and use a specific
strength training method like sled sprints. On the other weekly workout, make it a
workout based around sprinting for PRs. Simply go out and get warmed up and try to
run PRs at a distance somewhere between 30 and 60 yards. At the very end of your
workout you might do a few sets of 2-3 reps working up to 90% of your squat, as
well as a few glutehams, just to maintain your strength.

So the explosive phase might look something like this:

Starts- 5-10 reps (or whatever)
20-30 yard sprints (run reps until you start to slow down)
jump squat variation with 30% x 5 (3-4 sets total)
jump squat variation with 15% x 5 (3-4 sets total)
glute ham- 2 sets x 5-8 reps

Starts- 5-10 reps (or whatever)
40 yard sprints (run reps until you start to slow down)
depth jumps- 4 sets x 3 reps
normal squat 3 sets x 3 reps with 85-90% of max

Youd follow this phase for 3-6 weeks and then embark on another strength type
phase and maybe make a few adjustments like changing the focus from a squat to a
snatch grip deadlift or something similar. Nothing complicated. Those are just a few
very basic examples that could be adjusted to fit your needs. The exercises
themselves aren't as important as the principles employed. I guarantee you that
very simple split right there can take you very far and make you very fast if you
follow it over a period of time.

The Start

With the sprint starts they do require practice. Get in the right position. Lead foot 1.5
to 2 foot lengths behind the start line. Back foot one foot length behind the lead foot.
Get in position and practice. Make sure you're pushing from both legs, extending
fully from the start and not taking short choppy steps. In fact it often helps if you
concentrate on pushing first with the trail leg. Make sure your heals aren't hitting
first. If they are you're over-striding.

Common Errors

Now, let me talk about some of the most common training related errors.

1. Too much
As I alluded to above the biggest error I see is people that simply do too much
running. They think they need to be on their feet out running all the damn time to
be effective. There must be something about runners in general that breeds this
problem because I notice it in all times of runners at every distance. They sprint and
lift one day. The next day theyre out running conditioning. The next day they're
lifting and running again. That might be fine for marathon runners but sprinting is
more like lifting then it is marathon running. Science has found that improvements
in lifting performance occurs best with an average frequency of 2 x per week.
Improving lifts requires recovery and maximum focus and so does maximum

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. About 12 years ago I made up a routine that I pulled
out of my ass that had me sprinting once every 5 days. At the time I knew nothing
about training for the sprints I just made this up based on what had given me results
with lifting and other endeavors. My basic tenet was to make progress or go home.
My feeling was that its better to train with 100% intensity less frequently and make
progress every session then it is to train half assed in a state of fatigue. I wanted to
apply this concept to sprints and see what happened. Therefore, I sprinted once
every 5
day always 2 days after a heavy lower body workout. I would simply get
out out and attempt to sprint as fast as possible with full recoveries. Honestly, even I
didn't expect it to work very well but boy was I wrong. I used that exact routine to
improve my speed by over .5 of a second over 40 yards. I thought maybe it was a
fluke but since then Ive noticed other people getting great results from similar
routines involving less frequent but maximum effort sprinting. There are some
limitations to this type of setup but over short periods of time it is very effective for
the reasons I've already described.

2. Too Little-
Dont be like the guy I mentioned earlier who spends all his time in the weight room
and at the dinner table yet never does any other activity or speed work. You dont
have to get out and run sprints all the time but at least engage in some type of sport
a minimum of once per week or you risk losing your movement efficiency.

3. Weak as a Kitten-

Guys who cant handle the dedication and pain it takes to get stronger are also a
dime a dozen. These guys will commonly spend all sorts of time and money on
every gimmick you can think of like rubber bands, weighted vests, sleds, and all
kinds of other gimmicks but wont spend 5 minutes per week in the squat rack or on
the platform. Providing you do get them to actually lift they'll then complain about
being sore and feeling slow. Until youve come close to equaling at least the
minimum standards listed here youre not even close to being strong enough to

4. Skinny and afraid to eat-

This guy (or more often, girl) also tends to fall into the "too much" category. This is
often the guy who needs to get stronger to improve his performance. The problem is
he is addicted to being a skinny GQ looking cat and afraid to let his body-fat creep
up out of fear of getting fat. Thus he/she won't gain the weight he needs to get
stronger. This is the person who spends all day worrying about his six pack yet is
afraid to sit down at the dinner table and do enough serious eating to pack on some
muscle and strength. He also tends to do too much conditioning work and won't let
his body rest long enough to ever be fresh. Like I said before, you dont see any 120
lb guys winning any type of sprint races and until youre an advanced trainee you will
gain a 30% increase in strength for every 10% increase in muscle mass. Muscle and
strength both require good food intake.

5. Being Fat is not Phat-

This guy has the opposite problem of the aforementioned skinny guy. Its hard to
get down the track or field at a good rate of speed if youre hauling a 50 lb sack of
shit around your midsection. For many people the quickest way to improve their
speed is to decrease the load that theyre carrying around. That means less crap in
the diet and more activity. Cut down on sugars and increase the protein. Eliminate
the cokes, cakes, candy, pizza and ice cream and increase the consumption of
anything you can shoot or grow.

6. Trying to do everything at once -

With the popularization of conjugate training there are many athletes who think they
need to be addressing everything they can all of the time in any given mesocycle.
Therefore theyre always lifting with the volume that would oftentimes kill a
powerlifter and sprinting with the volume that would challenge a professional
sprinter. What these people need to realize is you can't always focus on everything
all of the time. There is often a delayed training effect for a given regime of work.
For example, heavy strength work is necessary. It sets the foundation for
everything and makes you stronger. But it is also fatiguing on both the nervous and
muscular system and thus, it often takes recovery time to really see the benefits of
strength work. It's difficult to run your fastest during the middle of a highly intense
concentrated strength phase because your neuromuscular system will simple be too
fatigued. Along the same lines, a surefire way to kill the effectiveness of a strength
phase is to do too much specific work like running. Likewise, one of the quickest
ways to kill the effectiveness of an explosive oriented phase is to drain the hell out of
yourself with too much strength work. A better approach is to alternate the "focus
of your training. Work on building up your strength for a while while you maintain
your speed. Then work on "maintaining your strength while you focus on your

7. Too much conditioning-

Putting out a very low amount of energy for a prolonged period of time and putting
out a whole lot of energy over a short period of time are qualities that reside at 2
opposite ends of the athletic performance spectrum. To put it simpler, if you want to
run marathons at a rapid pace dont expect to be very good at running sprints. If
you want to be as fast as possible, dont expect to be able to run any marathons. If
you try to do both, your body would rather sacrifice the ability to run sprints then it
would sacrifice the ability to run marathons. You will gain endurance at the expense
of speed. That's why marathon runners average about a 12 inch vertical jump. The
quickest way to destroy fast twitch muscle fibers is to bathe them in lactic acid for
prolonged periods of time. That's what you do with high intensity conditioning
training and/or intense cardiovascular activity. Whats funny is the explosiveness of
an athlete is directly inverse to the amount of conditioning in their training. For
example throwing athletes like shotputters, hammer throwers, as well as Olympic
lifters are the most powerful athletes around and you'll have a hard time getting
these guys to take a walk around the park much less engage in any type of
conditioning. The secret is to have that kind've explosiveness while being relatively
strong, lean, AND in condition. Look to your diet and try to get as much of your
conditioning through playing sports if possible. Basketball, flag football, tennis,
boxing, wrestling etc. are all good activities. Providing you can get enough frequency
in, nothing beats playing yourself into shape. If you find it necessary to engage in
extra conditioning work I suggest you follow these guidelines:

Guidelines for normal "cardio"

a. If youre doing it to drop body-fat, look to your diet first.
b. If you engage in long duration cardio keep it easy so that the slow twitch fiber
does the work. There's a big difference between running a 4.5 minute mile
and running an 8 minute mile. The former will make you weak and slow as
your body calls upon fast twitch fibers which must adapt to accomplish the
task. The latter won't have any negative effects because the slow twitch fiber
can handle the workload. The development of lactic acid is a sure sign that
you're recruiting fast twitch fibers. Make sure the lactic acid stays out of your
legs and keep the intensity to 60-70% of maximum heart rate.
c. No more then 3 days per week.

Guidelines for "intervals"

a. If you're running straight ahead keep the speed to 70% or less of your
maximum (If you're conditioning through agilities this recommendation
doesn't apply)
b. Keep the work to rest ratio to a point where your last interval can be
completed as fast as the first, except for the month or so just prior to the
beginning of your sporting season. This allows lactic acid to clear in between
c. Never do more then 3000 yards total for a given session.
d. No more then 2 days per week.

What about agility training?

The development of agility is much like the development of running speed. Learn the
movements and then build up the body to carry out those movements with greater
power. Agility training does not need to be done year around. Here is a sample of
how you might construct a year around split for a football player:

January Mid-May
Monday: Lower Body lifting
Tuesday: Upper Body lifting
Thursday Lower body lifting low volume movement work (sprints,
Friday: Upper Body lifting
End of May End of June
Monday: Upper Body lifting
Tuesday: Dynamic Warm-up, Sprint and agility technique
Wednesday: Lower Body lifting
Thursday: Upper body lifting
Friday: Dynamic Warm-up, anaerobic conditioning (using football drills / agility drills)

July Mid-August
Monday: Upper Body lifting, dynamic warm-up, anaerobic conditioning (linear)
Tuesday: Lower Body lifting
Wednesday: anaerobic conditioning (using football drills / agility drills)
Thursday: Upper body lifting
Friday: Dynamic warm-up, anaerobic conditioning

Well I think I surpassed my 20 minutes but hopefully that gives you some helpful
information when it comes to getting faster.

If you enjoyed this information and found it informative, a much more detailed
analysis on speed development and every other aspect of developing athletes will be
available in my upcoming training manual, "No Bull-Crap Sports Training". Keep an
eye out.


Appendix B:

Training Templates For Various Athletes
by: Kelly Baggett

General Guidelines and Principles:

1. The body does not know whether you're doing a higher-faster-sports, westside,
HIT, swiss ball, kettlebell, or any other system. It only knows stimulation and
recovery. Most training schemes do provide some stimulation and no routine is
1a. Exercises and routines are just "tools" to improve performance. No tool is more
important then whether or not the tool gets the job done. If your car breaks down, it
doesn't matter if you use a rock, a crescent wrench, bailing wire, or an entire set of
snap on tools to fix it, the important thing is that it gets fixed. Raising performance is
the same way.
1b. Most people probably tend to use too many "tools" per training session.
Improvement in mobility means you move more freely and easily, improvement in
speed work means you run faster in a straight line, improvement in agility means
you get better at moving while changing direction, improvement in plyo work means
you tend to get better at jumping, while improvement in strength means you get
better at developing tension typically demonstrated by an ability to lift heavier loads.
It doesn't necessarily take a boatload of tools to improve those qualities. The ability
for the human organism to adapt to stimulation existed prior to the invention of all
the high-tech training tools we have today. Stimulation for caveman consisted of
dealing with everyday life (chasing prey, running away from predators, lifting rocks
to build a hut etc.) You could take a knowledgeable athlete today and put him on a
deserted island, and, if he knew what he were doing and had enough food, he could
stimulate performance improvements without a single tool modern day tool to work
1c. The ultimate goal should be to get your knowledge of "stimulation" and
"recovery" down so well that you can program your body like a computer and know
what happens in advance. (Example: Adjust this, adjust that, insert this, delete that,
and here's what's gonna happen.)
1d. Most people do too much overanalyzing of various training minutia and not
enough actual training. In in doubt, pick 3 or 4 things and get really good at them.
1e. If combining strength training, speed, agility, plyo, etc. into one workout, always
do the faster stuff first. (ex. dynamic mobility followed by speed followed by plyo
followed by weights)
1f. If workouts are separated into AM and PM sessions you have some leeway as to
what you do first (strength and/or speed)
2. Volume of plyo, speed, and agility work should always be regulated based upon
performance. As soon as performance or speed starts to decline on a main
movement (assuming you're taking full rest intervals, which you should), stop the
workout. (It's as simple as that).
2a. Unless you're a sprinter, you should rarely ever run distances greater than ~
50+ yards for speed work.
2b. A set of plyo, speed, or agility work should rarely exceed 10 seconds in duration.
2c. The choice of drills chosen for plyo and agility work is not that important in the
grand scheme of things. Plyo consists of unilateral and bilateral (1 and 2 leg) hops,
jumps and bounds (they all do the same thing). Agility consists of moving forwards,
sideways and backward and changing direction. A simple jump for height is one of
the best plyo maneuvers there is. Basic change of direction drills will get the job
done for agility. If you play any sort've sport as frequently as two times per week,
chances are your needs for specific plyo and agility training are ZERO. Save the plyo
and agility work for the offseason and preseason.
2d. With that being said, you know that speed work should consist of sprints for 0 to
50 yards, plyo work consists of hops, jumps, and bounds for less then 10 seconds,
while agility work consists of moving forward, sideways, and backward with changes
of direction for less then 10 seconds per set. You also know that a workout for any of
those qualities should be terminated when performance declines due to fatigue. So
how difficult is it really to design and implement a plyo, speed, and agility workout?
Not very.
3. Monitoring volume strictly by "performance" on strength work is not such an
issue, as muscle growth stimulation is often a goal and does require a certain level of
fatigue, which means the load that you can lift at the end of a session may not be
the same as the load you lift at the beginning of a strength session, (which is not
true when targeting speed, agility and plyo improvements). Two to five sets per
strength movement is the norm.
3a. An upper body strength workout would generally consist of some type of upper
body push (bench press variation), some type of pull (row or pullup), along with
perhaps some supplemental shoulder and "beach" (aka arm) work.
3b. A lower body strength workout would generally consist of some type of squat or
deadlift (squat, deadlift, lunge, split squat), along with some type of assistance
movement for the glutes and hams.
3c. For strength and power, sets of 3-5 reps are optimal. For hypertrophy, sets of 5-
12 are typically optimal. Monitoring volume could be as simple as lifting in a targeted
rep bracket (3-5, 6-8, 9-12 etc.), starting off lifting at the upper end, and continuing
until your performance falls to the low end of the bracket. For example, work up to
a heavy set of 5 reps and continue performing sets until you can no longer get 4
3d. For strength development heavy loads of 85%-100% for sets of 1-5 reps are
optimal. For power development lighter loads of 10-60% are optimal.
3e. As a general recommendation, each strength training workout you do may
consist of one core strength or power movement for sets of 1-5 reps along with 1 or
2 assistance movements for 5-12 reps, and maybe an ab movement for 2-4 sets of
10-20 reps.
3f. The need for upper body "power" work using loads of 10-60% is virtually
nonexistent for any athletes other then powerlifters. With regards to upper body
work, an athlete should be lifting heavy focusing on getting stronger and/or bigger.
3g. Until an athlete has a base of lower body strenght in place (1.5 to 2 x bw squat
and deadlift), specific lighter lower body "power" work in the weight room using
loads of 10-60% is also largely useless. These people should concentrate on core
movements with progressively heavier bar weights with an emphasis on getting
stronger and/or bigger.
3h. Most people will make excellent gains with two upper body workouts per week
and either 1 or 2 lower body workouts per week. Beginners seem to progress fastest
with 3 of each per week.
3i. Ab work might consist of weighted crunches, standing pulldown abs, kneeling
pulldown abs, decline leg raises, hanging leg raises, cable wood chops, russian
twists, dumbell and cable side bends, side bends lying sidways in back extension
4. Generally speaking, it's benefical for intermediate and advanced athletes to take a
day of rest in between high intensive training elements. High intensive training
elements include the aforementioned speed, plyo, agility, and strength work. For
younger athletes (<16 years old), beginners (less then one year of training
experience), and those who are just introducing the training of certain motor
qualities into their routines (ex: a powerlifter introducing speed and agility work),
high intensive elements can be done more often.
4a. With regard to strength work, it's usually beneficial to take an "unloading" week
ever 3 to 6 weeks. There are many ways of implementing this. probably the simplest
is to cut your volume in half and decrease the load keeping things very easy. I
generally prescribe something like 3 sets of 3 reps at 80% for strength work during
an unloading week.
4b. Providing you can benefit from specific "power" work, it can often be
advantageous to alternate 2-4 weeks of heavy strength oriented training (heavy
squats and deadlifts for 3-5 reps) with 2-4 weeks of explosive oriented training
(speed box squats with 50-60%, jump squats etc.)
5. Skill work and conditioning can be done on alternate days.
6. It can often be advantageous to transition from a 4-8 week phase of higher
volume and/or greater training frequency into a phase of lower/volume and/or
7.If you're training consistently yet not making consistent progress or you're
regressing, chances are 10 to 1 you're doing too much. If in doubt reduce volume
and simplify your programming.
Basic Training templates
Raw Beginner
Work towards basic strength goals such as: pullup, dip, 50 bodyweight squats, one
perfect single leg squat, 25 full v-sits, 1 minute isometric front and side bridge hold
Training should consist of:
mobility, movement efficiency, and strength
For strength purposes 3 times per week get in the gym and focus on exercises such
bodyweight squats, lunge, single leg squats onto a box, stepups, supine row, partner
assisted or gravitron pullups, partner assisted or gravitron dips, wall sits, plank,
glute bridges, overhead broomstick squats etc.plus light form work on box squat and
Just pick 4-8 bodyweight type movements for 2-4 sets each, use the bodyweight and
go after it. It's difficult to overtrain when using bodyweight as resistance.
Hit mobility, speed, agility, etc. prior to lifting or on opposite days.
Mobility might consist of:
deep walking lunge, alternate pull heel to butt walk, leg swings front to back, leg
swings side to side, deep sumo squats, cross under lunge, bird dog, arm circles
Plyo/Speed/Agility might consist of
Skips, karioka, lateral hops, agility: (ex: 5 yard backpedal into 5 yard lateral shuffle
into 20 yard sprint), and sprints over distances from 10 to 100 yards.
Standard Beginner Template
This template will also work just fine for intermediate or advanced trainees. The
format for mobility, speed, and plyo work would be the same as the raw beginner,
but now core lifts make up the strength program on what might be a 2 to 3 times
per week basis. A sample strength workout is as follows.
Session A:
Clean or Snatch
Bench press
Ab movement
Session B:
Incline Press
Weighted Chin
Ab movement
*Alternate between session A & B.
Perform 2-5 sets of 2-5 reps, never to failure, using a step-type loading approach.
Increase the weight for 3 consecutive workouts then decrease it for one and build
back up.
session 1 100 x 2 x 3 (3 sets of 2 reps) session 2 105 x 2 x 3 session 3 110 x 2 x 2
session 1 105 x 2 x 3 session 2 110 x 2 x 3 session 3 115 x 2 x 2
session 1 110 x 2 x 3 session 2 115 x 2 x 3 session 3 120 x 2 x 2
Another option based on the same basic theme:
3 whole body workouts per week based on 5 sets of 5 reps:
Mobility and movement work done prior to lifting.
Mon- Squat 5 x 5, Pullup 5 x 5, Bench 5 x 5, Glute Ham 4 x 6 (sets of 5 are done
with a weight you could do 7-8 times)
Wed- Deadlift 5 x 3, Lunge 2 x 8, Row 3 x 6, DB Bench 3 x 5
Fri- Squat 5 x 5, Pullup 5 x 5, Bench 5 x 5, glute ham/leg curl 4 x 6 (sets of 5 done
working up to max 5 reps)
After 4-6 weeks this phase would be alternated with phase E or F below.
More Templates
Option A:
Mon and Thurs- mobility, linear (straight ahead) speed, upper body strength
Tues and Fri or Tues and Sat- mobility, plyo, agility, lower body strength
Sample week
Mon- mobility warmup, form running (high knees, skips, various quickfeet drills
etc.), 10 yard sprints x 10, 20 yard sprints x 6-8,
Weights - heavy push (some type of bench) working upto 3rm, Heavy row or pullup
same as bench, shoulder raise of some sort (front or side), beach work, crunching
type ab movement (loaded swiss ball or kneeling crunch etc.)
Tues- mobility warmup, forward and lateral single leg on box jumps x 2 sets each
leg lateral and forward, lateral barrier jump 4 sets x 8 reps, some type of agility drill
requiring lateral movement for somewhere around 4-8 reps.
Lower body: Some type of squat or deadlift movement typcially alternate 2-4 weeks
of a heavy compound movement like squats or deadlifts for 3-5 reps with 2-4 weeks
of a lighter speed movement like speed box squats or jump squats for 4-6 sets of 3-
8 reps. Follow that up with maybe some type of unilateral movement generally
bulgarian split squats during a heavy phase and steups during a lighter phase along
with some type of posterior chain assistance such as glute hams, reverse hypers,
pull throughs or whatever for 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps, some type of ab movement.
Wednesday- Off
Thursday- Repeat the basic scheme from monday's workout but perhaps do 3-4
sets of 8-10 reps on the pressing and row.
Friday or Sat- Repeat the basic theme from Tuesday's workout, but drop the
weights in the heavy compound movement or make a unilateral variation (lunge or
split squat) the "core" movement. If in a power phase just repeat the entire workout.
Option B:
Just do 2 full body workouts per week with speed/plyo on alternate days. Each
workout attempt to drive the weights up.
Speed/Plyo (Example: 10's and 20's for 4-8 reps each)
Squat 3-5 x 5
Bench 3-5 x 5
Pullup 3-5 x 5
post. chain- 2-3 x 6-10
ab - pulldown abs- 2-3 x 15-20
Try to drive the weight up each workout.
Wed: off/conditioning
Thurs: Speed/Plyo (20's and 40's for 4-6 reps each or stop at first sign of
performance dropoff)
Friday: Weights
Sat: Off/conditioning
Sun: Off
Repeat same basic weight training workout. As soon as you can no longer increase
the weights take a week and just do 3 x 3 at 80% of your 3 rep max for each
workout and come back the next week and hit it hard. An example of a more
detailed lifting progression with this format can be found by David Woodhouse here:
Option C:
Mon- UB Pull and LB posterior chain (chinups, deadlifts)
Wed-UB- Bench, Row, Beach
Fri- UB/LB- overhead press, pullup, front squat
Option D:
Basically a repeat of option A - keep the exercises the same but make the second
workout 10-20% lighter
Option E:
(this is one of my favorites to alternate with a higher frequency scheme)
Mon- mobility, speed, plyo, or agility and heavy upper body workout
Tues- Off (conditioning optional)
Wed- mobility, speed, plyo, or agility and heavy lower body workout
Thurs- off (skill and conditioning optional)
friday or sat - mobility, speed, plyo, or agility and hypertrophy oriented upper body
workout (sets of 5-12)
sun- off
mon- start over
Option F-
This is another one of my favorites.
Alternating every other day setup
Mon- mobility/speed/UB (ex: warmup- 20 yard sprints (stop when time declines),
Bench press variation 4 x 3, row variation 4 x 3, external rotation movement,
optional beach work, ab movement)
Wed- mobility/plyo/agility LB (ex: warmup, depth jumps -(stop when height
declines), shuttle drill 3-6 reps not all out, box squat - 4-6 x 3, glute ham - 4 x 5-8,
Fri - mobility/speed/UB (ex: warmup, 40 yard sprints (stop when time declines), DB
press varation - 3-4 x 8-12 reps, pullup or row variation, 3-4 x 8-12, ext. rotation
movement 2 x 12-15, beach work, abs)
Sun- plyo/agility LB (ex: warmup - depth jumps 4 x 3, shuttle drill (stop when time
declines), light box or jump squat - 4-6 x 3-5, glute ham, 4 x 5-8, abs)
Tues- Start over with Mon.
Option G
Another variant of option A above, but instead of doing movement work both on
upper and lower body days, combine it all together and do it on lower body days,
prior to your lower body lifting.
An example of how to use that schedule alternating strength and power work can be
found in the previous speed training article (Appendix A)
Option H
Bulk up and get strong - This is for the intermediate to advanced level guy or gal
who needs strength and size pronto. This template plus a no holds barred attitude at
the dinner table and the mindset of doing whatever it takes to get that scale weight
up will get the job done. Movement work is optional. The template is:
Mon: Lower body (quad dominant)
Tues: Upper Body (chest dominant)
Thurs: Lower body (hip and hamstring dominant)
Fri or Sat: Upper Body (shoulder dominant)
A precise example of this template can be found here:
Option I
3-day whole body routine using Auto-regulatory volume management.
Mobility- 5-10 minutes
Hip dominant- (deadlift variation) - 4-6 rm (start off at 6 reps and continue until you
can only perform 4 reps)
Horizontal Pull (row)- 8-10 rm
Bodyweight conditioning circuits or tempo variation
Mobility - 5-10 minutes
Upper Body Push (Bench press variation) - 4-6 rm
Knee Dominant unilateral movement (split squat,lunge)- 8-10 rm
Vertical Pull- 8-10 RM
Bodyweight Conditioning circuits or tempo variation
Mobility- 5-10 minutes
Event Specific Drills (running or jumping variation) or explosive lower body (jump
squat, speed squat) - 3 reps
Vertical Push - 8-10 rm
Trunk Flexion Hips to shoulders - 10-12 RM
Saturday and Sunday: Off

Appendix C: Various resources
Agility Ladder Drill Videos
Plyometric and Power Training Videos
Dynamic Warm-up video
Sample Agility Drills
Testing Drills
Hexagonal movement efficiency test